Improbable was the favorite when the bell rang in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, but he did not fulfill expectations and finished fourth in the first jewel of the Triple Crown.
Improbable is in a familiar role as favorite in the Preakness. He is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and scheduled to be ridden by Mike Smith. Those are stellar connections, and he should have an excellent chance of capturing the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
The colt will take off from the No. 4 post at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. He will want to stay fairly close to the leaders but will not want to be a part of any speed duel that develops.
If he can conserve his speed and strength, and the front-runners break quickly from the gate and set a fast pace, Improbable may well be in the perfect position to make his move when he hits the stretch in the 1 3/16-mile race.
Date: Saturday, May 18
Race Time: 6:48 p.m. ET (coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET)
TV: NBC (pre-race coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET)
Live Stream: NBC Sports app
Post Position and Odds
1. War of Will (4-1)
2. Bourbon War (12-1)
3. Warrior's Charge (12-1)
4. Improbable (5-2)
5. Owendale (10-1)
6. Market King (30-1)
7. Alwaysmining (8-1)
8. Signalman (30-1)
9. Bodexpress (20-1)
10. Everfast (50-1)
11. Laughing Fox (20-1)
12. Anothertwistafate (6-1)
13. Win Win Win (15-1)
Odds courtesy of official Preakness Stakes.
Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said Improbable had no problems shipping from Louisville to Baltimore and he didn't run his best race at Churchill Downs because he probably needed to be closer to the leaders.
"He came out of the race in good shape. It was horrible conditions. The track was just a sloppy mess," he said, per Evan Hammonds and Bob Ehalt of BloodHorse. "My feelings on the race [are] maybe he needed to be a little closer. He just got behind horses and was getting hit with a lot of dirt. But, that race is behind us and we've moved on to Baltimore now. We look forward to capturing this race if we can."
Trainer Mark Casse's War of Will is going to break from the No. 1 hole, and he is the second choice in the race at 4-1.
War of Will was involved in the disqualification of Maximum Security in the Derby. The disqualified horse angled out and was directly in his lane as he started to turn for home, and that forced War of Will to check and lose the momentum he had at that point in the race.
He should have an excellent chance to contend for the Preakness crown, though, and Casse believes his horse at least had the good fortune to avoid injury.
"It's a tough grind under normal circumstances," Casse said. "A lot have fallen by the wayside, and we've been lucky given the circumstances. He's a tough horse. We're extremely fortunate that nothing happened (in the Kentucky Derby) because it would have been the biggest disaster in horse racing history. So for that, I feel we didn't get a fair shot. But I'm OK with that because we have our horse and there's horse racing."
If there's any horse who wants to see a fast pace in the Preakness, it's Bourbon War. Trained by Mark Hennig and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., the colt is an outstanding closer who can speed by tiring horses on the front end.
He was finishing fastest of all when he finished second to Code of Honor in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in February, and the speed at the front end in the Preakness should be to his liking.
Bourbon War will be going off as a 12-1 long shot, and he could provide a huge payoff for his backers. Ortiz is an Eclipse Award-winning jockey, and his greatest asset is his ability to maneuver his mounts down the stretch.
If any jockey can bring out the best in Bourbon War, winner of two of his five career races, it's Ortiz.