We will not see a Triple Crown winner this year — the team for Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike has opted to skip Saturday’s race at Pimlico.
However for bettors who are heading to Laurel Racetrack to place a bet (or for those who prefer the TVG app), a Rich Strike-less field could be advantageous — it’s just one less horse to worry about.
Last year it was Rombauer who finished first, at 11-1 odds, besting the late Derby winner Medina Spirit, who finished third. Here are the nine horses looking to earn the Woodlawn Vase in 2022:
|1||Simplification||John R. Velazquez||Antonio Sano||6-1|
|2||Creative Minister||Kenneth McPeek||Brian Hernandez Jr.||10-1|
|3||Fenwick||Kevin McKathan||Florent Geroux||50-1|
|4||Secret Oath||D. Wayne Lukas||Luis Saez||9-2|
|5||Early Voting||Chad Brown||Jose L. Ortiz||7-2|
|6||Happy Jack||Doug O’Neill||Tyler Gaffalione||30-1|
|7||Armagnac||Tim Yakteen||Irad Ortiz Jr.||12-1|
|8||Epicenter||Steve Asmussen||Joel Rosario||6-5|
|9||Skippylongstocking||Saffie Joseph Jr.||Junior Alvarado||20-1|
And now for the predictions for how the horses will finish:
WIN: #1 SIMPLIFICATION
After a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby with Jose Ortiz aboard, Simplification will now get a new jockey; Ortiz had previously committed to ride Early Voting. Enter John Velazquez, who has won every race there is except the Preakness.
The 2022 season for Simplification has been successful, but rocky at times. He came into the Florida Derby with 2-1 odds and got off to a good start. After taking the lead at the half-mile, he quickly lost it at the ¾ when White Abarrio took over.
In the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, Simplification took a clear lead at Gulfstream Park and was never threatened, despite a brief challenge from Skippy at the beginning. At the Fountain of Youth Stakes, the 3-year-old Florida-bred colt came in as a 3-1 favorite and, despite running wide on the second turn, he took advantage of a few jockeys who got unseated from their mounts, hindering the final pace.
If you bet Simplification to win, like I plan to, don’t be alarmed if he is not at the front out of the gate. History suggests he can be a tad unsettled in the first stretch but has gotten used to hanging back behind horses in the beginning. He has great closing speed and I expect Johnny V to sit on the rail most of the race and make a move for first at the end.
PLACE: #8 EPICENTER
Epicenter was victorious in track-record time at the Louisiana Derby, despite galloping in third for a while. Joel Rosario eased the horse back, taught the horse about getting dirt kicked up in the face before cruising ahead to an easy victory. He was also the decisive winner of the Risen Star Stakes and after a neck-and-neck sprint with Surfer Dude at Gun Runner, Epicenter ended up taking over, winning by six.
As far as post position, Rosario will have the opportunity to get a nice look at what his inside opponents are doing. Legendary trainer Steve Asmussen won the Preakness in 2007 with Curlin and two years later with Rachel Alexandra. However I expect Asmussen’s Epicenter to finish as the runner-up once again, two weeks after doing so against Rich Strike at the Kentucky Derby.
SHOW: #4 SECRET OATH
The Kentucky Oaks winner has proven she can run with the boys or the girls in 2022.
On the Friday race before the Derby, Secret Oath came on the outside of Echo Zulu as they headed into the stretch and took the lead at the eight pole. She was the 2-5 favorite in the Honeybee G3, running from the rail to start. Ice Orchid kept her in tight, but in two strides Secret Oath took the lead and then stormed to a seven-length victory.
She finished third in the Arkansas Derby, and who knows how it could have finished if she had a solid trip. She was last leaving the backstretch but was able to ascend to third and fell just short of second place at the very end.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas won the Kentucky Derby in 1988 with a filly by the name of Winning Colors but finished third in the Preakness. That is where I expect this year’s lone filly to finish in Baltimore on Saturday.
LONGSHOT (TO FILL OUT THOSE SUPERFECTAS): #3 FENWICK
After this year’s Kentucky Derby saw the longest shot win outright, I know I will be spending at least a buck on a superfecta lottery ticket with the #3 Fenwick rounding out card.
Some may scoff at Fenwick after an 11th-place finish at the G1 Blue Grass Stakes a month ago, but he won at a mile and 40 yards in Tampa in a Maiden Special Weight this year where he held the rail position. In that race, he led ¾ of a length in front in the beginning and was able to hold on before pulling away at the final sixteenth, claiming victory at 21-1 odds.