Editor’s note: First Mission, the second favorite to win the Preakness, was scratched early Friday morning.
Bear Bets are real bets made by Chris “Bear” Fallica.
All eyes will be on Kentucky Derby winner Mage in the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday.
Thirteen horses have achieved the major prize of the sport by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
Will Mage remain in the competition to become the fourteenth?
Let’s look at racing from a betting perspective.
Here’s a breakdown of all the horses, some fun bits to talk about with your friends, and, of course, my favorite Saturday bets.
To keep it simple, I’ll run through my picks first. Then, keep reading to learn about each horse and some of their fun derby nuggets. Also, if you need a little primer on how to bet on ponies, here’s an appendix Introduction to horse racing Should help.
my betting card
A primer for all horses (status, horse, rider, trainer, odds)
1. National Treasure (John Velazquez / Bob Baffert); 3-1
After being banned from horses in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert is back. He has won this race seven times and has the third option on the morning line here.
National treasure has a lot of money. He’s on the rails, adds the blinkers and is officially back in the Baffert fold.
Find him to be right in the lead and play come get me. And they may not be able to. I expect a big leap forward from fourth place in the Santa Anita Derby. He’s my top pick in this race.
2. Chasing Chaos (Sheldon Russell / Ed Mauger Jr.); 30-1
This Gelding did not finish in front of any decent person in his eight races, and the only time he faced a graded stakes firm, he was beaten about 17 lengths by Practical Move. It’s hopeless, but I hope the connections enjoy the party!
3 – Mage (Javier Castellano / Gustavo Delgado); 4-5
I’m mad at myself for not moving this further after my top Derby pick – Skinner – was scratched. He had a lot of things that he loved about a horse in the Triple Crown circuit. He can totally win again because this race has seven new shooters for the Triple Crown race, but only two look like a threat on paper.
I was expecting Mage to be in a great chasing spot off National Treasure, and then it just came down to how he responded when asked about his best performance by jockey Javier Castellano.
He has a great chance of entering the Belmont with a shot at winning the Triple Crown.
4 – Chris Coffeywith (Jaime Rodriguez / John Salzman Jr.); 20-1
This local horse is not fast enough to take the lead, and his past performances do not indicate that he wants to overtake horses in the stretch. He has the appearance of a horse who will be cruising around the track and hoping to cash a check from third or fourth place.
5. The First Red Road (Joel Rosario; Steve Asmussen); 8-1
He was once 3-1 in the 2022 Street Sense race at Churchill Downs, which had eventual Derby runners-up Two Elephant, so he was highly regarded by bettors in the past.
Overall he has very little speed but a good closing kick so I can see him getting past some horses late on. But I don’t think the pace up front will be fast enough that he can win.
Trainer Steve Asmussen has historically done well in this race, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a good late lap to finish in the top four.
6. A performance (Feargal Lynch; Shug McGaughey); 12-1
If you look at the Jan. 28 race at Gulfstream Park, Florida, Perform was 6-1 in its first race won by a 12-1 shot. This horse? pond.
Yes, that Mage who just won the Kentucky Derby.
Performance just got better because the races got longer, and you got to be in pretty chasing mode the whole time. If you’re looking for a long shot, this is the horse I’d play, and I’d definitely use it for precision hits and triples.
7. Blazing Sevens (Erad Ortiz Jr. / Chad Brown); 5-1
This looked like he was set for big things as a two-year-old when he broke a maiden in dominant style at Saratoga, then won the Champagne Stakes at Aqueduct.
But he didn’t seem to make any moves forward when he was 3 years old. It took him a while to get going, and he clearly needed to race the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park after a five-month break. He was then behind the top two finishers in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland In his second start of the year.
Even on his third layoff start, I’m not sure he’s fast enough to run National Treasure – whom he finished behind in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – nor is he good enough to beat Mage. He’ll take the money until the race, and if he beats me, I’ll live with him.
8. First Expedition (Louis Says / Brad Cox). 5-2
BEAR BYTES (Fun talking points with friends)
Coach Bob Baffert has won this race seven times, most recently with Justify in 2017. Each of the seven winners has been 3-1 or less in the pot.
Coach Chad Brown has won this race twice since 2017. Neither winner was two of the betting’s top picks.
The only favorite to win the Preakness in the last seven rounds was Justify winning in 2018. Fun fact, but the final two favorites to win the Preakness are both Triple Crown winners (also American Pharoah in 2015).
Jockey John Velazquez has ridden the three favorites for the past six years. He finished third on Medina Spirit in 2021, second on Authentic in 2020 and eighth on Always Dreaming in 2017.
Each of the other four Preakness winners was at least 6-1 and at least a third pot option. Rombauer was the fifth betting choice in 2021 and Swiss Skydiver was the sixth betting choice in 2020.
The last time the favorite and second pick won the Preakness was in 1981 when favorite Pleasant Colony won and Bold Ego finished second. Note that there have been cases since then in which the second choice and the second favorite won, such as in 2012 when the second choice, I’ll get another choice, beat the favourite, Bodemeister.
The only time the first horse across the finish line in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness has been sacked by double-digit margins was in 2011 when Animal Kingdom won the Derby by a score of 21-1 and Shackelford won the Preakness by a score of 13-1. Mage just won the Derby at 15-1.
Coach Steve Asmussen has coached a Preakness runner-up in each of the past two years – Epicenter in 2022 and Midnight Bourbon in 2021.
Chris “Bear” Fallica has covered sports for nearly three decades. While his focus has been on college football, he also enjoys NFL, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, MLB, NHL, and Horse Racing, with an “occasional” bet on such events. Chris recently won the inaugural Circa Football Invitational and finished 10th in the Golden Nugget Football competition. He is a multi-time NHC Handicapping Championship qualifier. Remember, “The less you bet, the more you lose when you win!” Follow him on Twitter @Chrisvillea.
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