The post draw for the 2019 Preakness Stakes was held Wednesday in Baltimore. Early favorite Improbable drew the No. 4 position for Saturday's race at Pimlico Race Course.
Neither Kentucky Derby champion Country House nor Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first at Churchill Downs before getting disqualified, is in the Preakness field. It gives a wide-open feel to the second event of horse racing's Triple Crown season.
Let's check out a complete list of post positions for the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans. That's followed by a closer look at the race's top contenders.
2019 Preakness Stakes Field
Post - Horse (Jockey; Trainer; Morning-Line Odds)
1 - War of Will (Tyler Gaffalione; Mark Casse; 4-1)
2 - Bourbon War (Irad Ortiz Jr.; Mark Hennig; 12-1)
3 - Warrior's Charge (Javier Castellano; Brad Cox; 12-1)
4 - Improbable (Mike Smith; Bob Baffert; 5-2)
5 - Owendale (Florent Geroux; Brad Cox; 10-1)
6 - Market King (Jon Court; D. Wayne Lukas; 30-1)
7 - Alwaysmining (Daniel Centeno; Kelly Rubley; 8-1)
8 - Signalman (Brian Hernandez Jr.; Ken McPeek; 30-1)
9 - Bodexpress (John Velazquez; Gustavo Delgado; 20-1)
10 - Everfast (Joel Rosario; Dale Romans; 50-1)
11 - Laughing Fox (Ricardo Santana Jr.; Steve Asmussen; 20-1)
12 - Anothertwistafate (Jose Ortiz; Blaine Wright; 6-1)
13 - Win Win Win (Julian Pimentel; Michael Trombetta; 15-1)
Horses To Watch At Pimlico
Improbable won the first three races of his career, highlighted by a triumph in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity in December to emerge on the Triple Crown radar.
He continued to build his resume by finishing second in both the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, one of the top Kentucky Derby prep races.
The Bob Baffert trainee lacked the finishing kick necessary to win at Churchill on May 4 amid the wild finish that led to Maximum Security's DQ. He still managed to finish fourth, and he came out of the race in strong enough condition to compete Saturday on short rest.
"He galloped a very light mile," Jimmy Barnes, Baffert's top assistant, said Tuesday. "We're ready to go."
A slightly shorter race (1 3/16 miles) combined with a less crowded field could land Improbable in the winner's circle.
War of Will
War of Will showcased his high-end potential with victories in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes and the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes early this year, but he's lacked consistency.
He had an aggressive schedule, including an appearance in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, and went winless through his first four races. After a three-race winning streak, he's struggled the last two times out. The colt was ninth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and seventh in the Kentucky Derby.
His effort two weeks ago was derailed by Maximum Security's hard push off the rail around the final turn. Nevertheless, it's unclear whether he had the late pace necessary to win what would have been a jam-packed sprint to the finish line if the race remained clean.
War of Will is at his best when he's able to sit just off the lead to take advantage of overambitious pace-setters. So his chances could hinge on whether Alwaysmining and Warrior's Charge tire each other out, which could set the stage for a late battle with Improbable.
Alwaysmining is riding a six-race winning streak that dates back to late October, but none of those victories came against the level of competition he'll face Saturday in the Preakness.
He did face off with Win Win Win in December's Heft Stakes and came out on top, so there's at least a little precedent that he can outrun a Triple Crown-level foe. But all of his victories came at Laurel Park, so the change of venue will be a factor.
In horse racing, however, uncertainty often creates value. Question marks about his ability to compete at the sport's highest level could quickly be erased if he's able to set a reasonable early pace, which is possible with Warrior's Charge the only one likely to push him at the start.
With a Preakness field without a dominant horse, Alwaysmining's winning ways make him a legit threat to steal the spotlight from Improbable and War of Will.