In spite of the fact that there will be no Triple Crown champion in 2022, this year’s Preakness on Saturday is still an exciting race, and could possibly set us up for a thrilling showdown in three weeks when the Belmont Stakes is contested.
The owners and trainers of the surprise winner of the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike, have opted out of the Preakness and are reportedly preparing to run at Belmont. This decision is logical, as Rich Strike is clearly suited for longer distances and stretch runs.
With the Belmont Stakes being the longest of the three races at 1 1/2 miles, the colt will have a long rest and should be fresh to run in New York.
Show Me The Money: As is any sport or business, it is all about the money. Obviously, the value of Rich Strike as a stud has skyrocketed since winning the Derby, and his owner and trainer have always preferred a longer rest between races than a mere two weeks.
A poor showing in the Preakness would greatly diminish his value and may result in his being absent from the Belmont.
No Pimlico Special: In past years, there was frequently a local Pimlico horse who did not race in the Kentucky Derby, yet was a factor as a long shot in the Preakness. There will be no entry of this kind in 2022.
In the absence of Rich Strike and the third-place finisher in the Derby, Zandon, the Kentucky Derby’s second-place finisher, Epicenter, is the clear favorite. At even money or slightly better, the risk-reward is simply not appealing.
Speed Wins: One colt that will attract gamblers’ attention is Early Voting — for a few different reasons. First of all, the colt is trained by highly regarded Chad Brown, who won the Preakness in 2017 with Cloud Computing. More importantly, the colt has speed, which is especially beneficial for the shorter distance.
The colt has the highest speed rating in his most recent race, along with the fastest dirt time in the field. Finally, Early Voting had a nice outing in his last race, finishing second; he subsequently blazed a five-furlong workout on May 13.
Lady Luck? Another contender worth some consideration is the filly in the race: Secret Oath. The standout winner of the Kentucky Oaks has been victorious in five of her eight lifetime starts and has amassed an impressive amount of purse money, second only to Epicenter.
While fillies have more wins at the Preakness than any other Triple Crown race, it is a feat that has been accomplished only six times in 146 races. It should be noted that the last time a filly won the Preakness was in 2020 (Swiss Skydiver); before that, it was Rachel Alexandra, who won in 2009.
Racing Luck: If you’re looking for odds better than 5-1, then the horse on the rail, Simplification, could be your pick. The fourth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby had a rough trip on the far outside for most of the race.
The colt was seven wide at the quarter pole and raced mostly 3-5 wide for most of the race. After such bad racing luck, he stayed well in the stretch and managed to cash a check.
Thrills Ahead? If favored Epicenter emerges victorious, then we should all be excited for an epic rematch in the Belmont: this would pit Derby winner Rich Strike against the horse who finished second to him. This would truly establish the dominant stakes winner of 2022, so make your picks, tune into the spectacle, and enjoy the race!
The 2020 Preakness race. Photo via Wikimedia.
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