2018 Preakness Stakes preview, odds, predictions

WASHINGTON — At this year’s Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, it won’t be raining beers like the infamous running of the urinals back in the early 2000s. No, it will be actual rain from the sky, as the forecast at Pimlico Saturday continues to show precipitation just like we’ve been experiencing in our area all week.

Justify, the Bob Baffert-trained winner of the Kentucky Derby and the heavy favorite coming into the second leg of the Triple Crown, overcame a rainy day and a sloppy track nearly two weeks ago, winning by two and a half lengths. Now with a smaller field (just eight horses in the Preakness compared to 20 in the Derby), is there anything that can hold Justify back from winning on Saturday?

One could maybe point to Justify’s bruised left hind heel, which he sustained during his Derby victory on the muddy track. However, he looked fine in his initial appearance at Pimlico, and trainer Baffert says the issue is “all behind us.”

Baffert, who trained the last Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, told NBC after the Kentucky Derby that Justify ranks up there with his top horses. We should expect Justify to come out on top at Pimlico and be a race away from becoming the second Triple Crown winner in the last four years.

WINNER: No. 7 Justify

History is on the side of the favorite for two reasons. First, Justify has never lost in his career as he seeks his fifth victory in a row this Saturday. Secondly, Baffert has never lost at the Preakness after winning the Derby (Silver Charm 1997, Real Quiet 1998, War Emblem 2002 and American Pharoah 2015).

Justify shattered a 136 year-old historical record as well at Churchill Downs, becoming the first horse to win the Derby after not running as a 2-year-old since 1882.

Justify could stay in front of the pack for almost the entire mile and 3/16ths and cruise to victory. None of the other seven horses can beat him.

PLACE: No. 5 Good Magic

The second favorite in the Preakness came in second at this year’s Kentucky Derby, running a strong race but ultimately falling short against Justify. He earned his first win at the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was the winner of this year’s Bluegrass Stakes. He’s got a great trainer in Chad Brown and has been running well, but barring a major catastrophe for Justify out of the gate, Good Magic will fall short again.

SHOW: No. 1 Quip

It’s terrible to be so chalky, but it’s hard to pick against the third favorite finishing in third place. Quip is one of the four horses in the field who did not run in the Kentucky Derby, along with Diamond King, Tenfold, and Sporting Chance, so you know he’s fresh. He’s got a solid track record as well, winning the Tampa Bay Derby and coming in second at the Arkansas Derby. He’s done very little wrong in his career and I think his speed could still be very advantageous despite the potential sloppy track.

Dark Horse (To Include in Superfecta): No. 3 Sporting Chance

Trainer Wayne Lukas has been successful in the Preakness in the past, winning six times in his career, most recently in 2013 with Oxbow. Sporting Chance has won or placed in four of the seven starts under Lukas and if he’s able to run a straight path on the wet track he could surprise the competition.

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