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For better or for worse, the show rolls on in Baltimore this weekend, with the Preakness Stakes (G1) drawing a field of 10. Slated as race 13 on the card the event is one of 10 stakes contests on the day, which is filled with several great races, providing what should make for an interesting afternoon. Local post time for the Preakness Stakes is 6:47 PM ET.
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There is no getting around it, Bob Baffert is obviously the big story coming into this event. Earlier in the week, it was announced that Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Medina Spirit had tested positive for betamethasone after the race, but an agreement was made to still let him run in this race despite the positive test. Baffert also will double down in this spot, sending Concert Tour to the race. Medina Spirt will break from post 3, with John Velazquez aboard, while Concert Tour will break from post 10, with Mike Smith in the irons.
Chad Brown will also send two horses to Baltimore, with Crowded Trade breaking from post 4, and Risk Taking breaking from stall 9. Both horses exit the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2), where they disappointed; however, Brown brining them to Baltimore means he believes they can rebound in this spot. Both entries are owned by the powerful Klaravich Stables, who won the Preakness in 2017 with Cloud Computing. Chad Brown seemed to be ok with each horses draw.
“No major complaints. Crowded I thought drew well. I preferred him to be inside Risk Taking so at least that is accomplished. Risk Taking is out there a little bit, but there looks like there is enough speed in the race that, hopefully, the field gets strung out a little before the first turn and he can drop in. Just let Jose (Ortiz) work out his trip from there”.
An interesting Kentucky Derby (G1) runner who will wheel back in the Preakness is Midnight Bourbon, who was sixth in the previously mentioned race, after a poor trip. The Steve Asmussen trained colt shouldn’t have as much of a problem today in this smaller filed, while top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount. The colt will break from post 5. Trainer Steve Asmussen was happy with his post position draw.
“Good draw. With dual loading, he’s second-to-last to load. Middle of the field. Good run to the first turn. Obviously, post-position draw in a 10-horse field is half as important as in a 20-horse field, but I think it gives you all the options you would ever have wanted with a talented horse.”
The full field from the rail out includes: Ram, Keepmeinmind, Medina Spirit, Crowded Trade, Midnight Bourbon, Rombauer, France Go de Ina, Unbridled Honor, Risk Taking, and Concert Tour.
#5 Midnight Bourbon – Let’s take a little swing with Midnight Bourbon, who never got into position in the Kentucky Derby (G1) after a poor start. He should get a better set up here, stalking the Baffert duo, and getting first run on them at the top of the stretch. With no serious closers in the race, from that point on he should be the only one within range of the leaders that can run them down late. Undoubtedly, he will need Medina Spirit to come back to him a bit, but maybe he will given the circumstances. Getting Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard only helps his chances as well.
#10 Concert Tour – Remember when this was the Baffert horse that was supposed to win the Kentucky Derby (G1). After his Arkansas Derby (G1) no-show, that obviously didn’t materialize, but there is no doubt he could rebound here. Baffert wisely skipped the Derby to give Concert Tour more time between races, which might pay off, as the horse has been working well leading up to the race. Look for him to bounce back in a big way.
#3 Medina Spirit – Amongst all the controversy, it’s hard to know how either one of Baffert’s runner will do in this spot, but you have to take them for face value until we know otherwise. The bottom line is this: On the race track, this horse has been one of the most consistent runners in the crop all year, and has every chance to win this race. The only other big speed horse is his stablemate, so Baffert should be able to control things up front, making it tough to beat his duo.
#4 Crowded Trade – This Chad Brown runner has been consistent since breaking his maiden at Aqueduct, finishing second in the Gotham Stakes (G3) and third in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2). Right after the Wood Memorial, he pointed towards this race, so Brown likely has him ready to fire here. So, there are positive signs, but there is no doubt you would have liked to see him win one of those previously mentioned races. There is still a question of whether he’ll be good enough to win a race of this magnitude.
#9 Risk Taking – It’s a great sign that Chad Brown has entered him here, considering he would have been the favorite last week in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3). That being said, he has a lot of improving to do to have a chance here, especially after his non-effort last time out in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2). We’ve got to see him bounce back in a big way, plus he’ll need a hot pace to become dangerous.
#2 Keepmeinmind – He ran a sneaky good race in the Kentucky Derby (G1); however, at no point did you think he had any shot of winning the race. There were a lot of horses that just didn’t show up with much of an effort on that day, so he passed a lot of horses that just didn’t care to run the final few furlongs of the race. We’ll see if he can get a similar set up and trip here, passing a lot of tired horses down the lane.
#6 Rombauer – At this point, he’s much like the other two horses in this category, where you can see him hitting the board but that’s about about it. He has a “grind it out” style of running, which will allow him to stay within range of everyone, but probably lacks enough speed to pass them all and get the victory. His connections have pointed for this race all along, though, so he should show up with a solid effort.
#8 Unbridled Honor – The Pletcher barn has caught fire over the last couple of months, which makes this one interesting, especially after his solid showing in the Lexington Stakes (G3) last time out at Keeneland. If he can build off of that effort, he’ll have a chance here, especially if a couple of the big guns in the race fail to show up.
#7 France Go De Ina – It’s hard to know what this horse will do; however, history shows us that foreign shippers just don’t run all that well in our Triple Crown series. So, history tells us this is a very tough task.
#1 Ram – It’s cool to see D Wayne Lukas back at the Preakness, even if it looks like he doesn’t have much of a chance to win. Ram has won two races in a row, though, so why not give it a go in this spot? Lukas is no stranger to winning races at big prices.
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