Here are my picks and opinions regarding the Preakness Stakes which will be run on Saturday at Pimlico Racetrack in Laurel, Maryland.
Best Horse: #10 Dialed In. (9:2 opening line). The owner and trainer of Dialed In, who finished 8th as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, are highly motivated to win the Preakness since they are eligible for a $5.5 million bonus. Like the Derby, Dialed In is the strongest horse in a weak field. Trainer Nick Zito produces winners and Julien Leparoux is riding him again; a combination which should generate a winning performance. If he can avoid being trapped, I think this closer will run down the leaders in the home stretch. While Dialed In is no longer the favorite, he should redeem himself and provide a huge payday for his owner and trainer.
My Favorite: #9 Mucho Macho Man (6:1). No longer a long-shot like he was in the Derby, Mucho Macho Man should be able to make up the three lengths he lost to Animal Kingdom. With a strong pedigree and the feel good story of the year (trainer Kathy Rivo would become the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race), Mucho Macho Man should improve on his 3rd place finish. WPS bet on #9.
Long-shot: #7 Midnight Interlude (15:1). This is my long-shot in the Preakness Stakes field. Midnight Interlude will be ridden on Saturday by Martin Garcia who replaces Victor Espinoza aboard the 16th place Kentucky Derby finisher. His poor finish in the Derby was somewhat deceptive because he was trapped in traffic early and never recovered. Trainer Bob Baffert indicated that Midnight Interlude has looked sharp since the Derby and appears to be more aggressive in his training. Baffert’s top 3-year old at these odds is an interesting bet – look for a much better run on Saturday for Midnight Interlude. In any case, he’s the most beautiful horse in the field and should be included in your exotics.
Value Pick: #5 Shackleford (12:1). Shackleford, a true speed horse with a nice post position, led the Kentucky Derby from the opening gate until deep into the stretch run before finishing in 4th place only 4 lengths behind Animal Kingdom. Shackleford was a super long-shot in the Florida Derby and led the entire way before losing at the finish line to Dialed In. With the Preakness distance shorter than the Derby and his regular jockey Jesus Castano in the saddle, Shackleford has a better chance to hold onto the lead – or at least end up in the money. Also by virtue of finishing second in the Florida Derby, Shackleford is eligible for a $550,000 bonus if he wins the Preakness. I like the odds and consider this the best value play of the day – this is a solid WPS bet.