While the Derby DQ of Maximum Security remains fresh, we will turn our attention to Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. At 1-3/16 miles over 2 turns, the second jewel of the triple crown carries a purse of $1.5 million for 13 3yr old hopefuls.
With no derby winner and only a single G1 victory in the entire field, the luster of another triple crown winner is gone but we cannot lose sight that this is a tremendous betting race. The Bob Baffert trained 5-2 morning line favorite, Improbable, is a vulnerable top choice and the morning line prices of a very competitive field are mouth watering.
I can, in fact, make a case against all of the single digit morning line hopefuls. Kentucky Derby casualty, War of Will, has drawn the dreaded rail again. Improbable, with Mike Smith aboard, has not won a race since December. Local favorite, Alwaysmining, is on a 6 race win streak but is making his first foray into graded stake company. Anothertwistafate has won 3 of 6 lifetime but all wins have come over Golden Gate’s poly surface. With this list of excuses, let’s look for a price.
The pace of the race looks to be contentious, but not necessarily fast.
War of will has done his best running when up near the pace so look for him to try and get out early. Warrior’s Charge, from post #3 with a 12-1 morning line, has found success against cheaper while on the front end, even though his early pace figures are sub-par. The same can be said for the Maryland bred Alwaysmining who has won 6 in a row since finding early foot against non-graded stake company. And Anothertwistafate wants to be up front but has not found the lead at any point of any race in his career on the dirt.
The horse I landed on is the 30-1 morning line bomb Signalman. Breaking from post #8 with Brian Hernandez in the irons, Signalman’s most recent outing was a 3rd place finish in the G2 Blue Grass at Keeneland. In that race he sat behind a speed duel featuring 7/5 favorite and eventual winner Vekoma. Never more than 1-3/4 lengths behind the embattled leaders, Signalman battled on while running a bit greenly in the lane only to be nosed out of place money by a deep closing Win Win Win who received all the benefits of a 23.26 and 47.03 pace.
Signalman’s half mile in the Blue Grass is the fastest E2 Brisnet figure in the field and his finish was a step forward in his 2nd outing of 2019. In the Preakness, with a contested pace expected, Signalman should sit in the same position as in the Blue Grass and have enough left for his one-run to the wire. It is my view that he was too far back in the Fountain of Youth and overcompensated by being too close to too fast of a pace in the Blue Grass. If jockey Brian Hernandez can get the pace right, Signalman can spring the upset.
With an improving form cycle and in his 3rd race off of his winter break, I will take Signalman for the win and a major payday.