New challengers help bettors in the Preakness

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In 1996, the Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone was retired five days after his Kentucky Derby win.

In 1985, the Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck passed on the Preakness to run for a $2 million bonus at Garden State Park in New Jersey.

In 1982, Gato Del Sol, who won the Kentucky Derby, passed on the Preakness as his connections said the two-week turnaround was not in the best interest of their horse.

Now, in 2019, with no shot at a horse winning the Triple Crown, we will see a total lack of interest by the media and the casual fan for the Preakness and the Belmont, with TV ratings taking a big hit and the handle also likely to take a major hit.

But for the everyday horseplayer, this will become a very good betting race with a likely field of 12 runners.

With Maximum Security, Country House, Code of Honor, Tacitus and Game Winner all passing on the Preakness, that will leave us with the two main contenders being Improbable, who finished fifth but had his number moved up to fourth after Maximum Security got taken down, and War of Will, who finished eighth and had his number moved up to seventh after the DQ. The maiden Bodexpress will once again look to get a piece.

Some of the others looking to win this race will be Alwaysmining, who has been winning like a machine at Laurel with six straight wins. Anothertwistafate was second in the Lexington and just missed by a neck in the Sunland Derby behind Cutting Humor who ran 11th in the Kentucky Derby with his number moved up to 10th. Anothertwistafate’s three wins have all come at Golden Gate on a synthetic surface.

Bourbon War was more than seven lengths behind Maximum Security in the Florida Derby when finishing fifth. Laughing Fox has been running at Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve Asmussen and was fourth in the Arkansas Derby, finishing behind Omaha Beach, Improbable and the eventual Kentucky Derby winner, Country House. He won his next start in the $300k Oaklawn Park Invitational. Beware of this colt.

Owendale won the Lexington in his last start when beating Anothertwistafate, but he got buried in the Risen Star by War of Will. He is a deep closer, so if the track is playing fair he could get a piece from far back.

Signalman has been moving along slowly as this will be just his third start of the year after a nice third place finish in the Bluegrass Stakes behind Vekoma and Win Win Win. We also remember him finishing a solid third in last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile behind Game Winner. He has a shot a piece if able to move forward.

Win Win Win finished tenth in the Kentucky Derby and had his number moved up to ninth after the DQ. He had no excuses for that effort.

Warrior’s Charge has been rounding into form of late, prompting trainer Brad Cox and connections to feel like the lack of star power in this year’s addition is worth the $150,000 supplemental price tag to take a shot, we are skeptical but open-minded.

Similarly, D. Wayne Lukas, has decided that he has a live one in Market King, who has been running at Oaklawn Park, and Oaklawn Park shippers have been winning everywhere of late. This grandson of Speightstown broke his maiden at 1 1/16 miles and has posted two nice works in the past week. This was enough for “The Coach” to convince the connections to run at Pimlico.

Again, we are skeptical. But in a big race, we treat D. Wayne a bit like E.F. Hutton, when he speaks, we are prone to listen.

Finally, in the Kentucky Derby, Improbable took all the late money and was sent off as the favorite at 4-1. He broke badly and raced in traffic losing position. He did get out late just missing fourth by a head behind Tacitus. Mike Smith will be aboard this time around for his main man Bob Baffert, who has won this race seven times. Look for a better trip out of Improbable on Saturday.

Looking back at some winners at Old Hilltop who did not run in the Kentucky Derby, Rachel Alexandra won this race in 2009 after not running in the Derby and Cloud Computing won in 2017 after not running in the Derby. 

Of the newcomers, Maryland favorite Alwaysmining is very fast and cannot be dismissed as they all look to beat Improbable. I will also have Laughing Fox on my tickets.

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