A field of seven line up in the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday and morning line favorite Mage is looking as if he is going to be tough to beat.
The Brad Cox trained First Mission is now a scratch, reducing the field to seven.
The Gustavo Delgado trainee is coming off a 15-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby (G1) just two weeks ago and is the lone runner from the Derby field to wheel back in two weeks for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
“He’s so smart. I can’t overstate that. He’s a really intelligent horse. Not only does he take care of himself during his races, but he knows when to commence,” said Ramiro Restrepo after a morning gallop on Wednesday. Restrepo owns the three-year-old son of Good Magic with OGMA Investments LLC, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH.
“He responds to the cues from the rider so well. He’s learned Gustavo’s program and you can see it how he picks up the rhythm on his own,” he added.
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The colt faces six new shooters in the 2023 Triple Crown series. Among those is National Treasure (4-1) who will be sent out by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who was missing from the last two runnings of the Kentucky Derby. The colt was fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his last outing.
Trainer Chad Brown is looking for back to back wins in the Preakness, sending out Blazing Sevens (6-1). The colt was third in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland in his last outing. Brown saddled last year’s winner Early Voting.
Completing the field are Chase the Chaos (50-1), Coffeewithchris (20-1), Red Route One (10-1), and Perform (15-1).
The Preakness Stakes will be televised on NBC and has a post time of 7:01 ET, the 13th of 14 races on the Pimlico card on Saturday.
Let’s head out to Pimlico for Saturday’s featured race of the day: (Updated after the scratch of First Mission)
Pimlico Race 13 The Preakness (G1) Post time 7:01 ET
3 Mage 8-5
1 National Treasure 4-1
7 Blazing Sevens 6-1
Mage was my top pick in the Florida Derby (G1) and after his solid second to Forte my first thought was “I found my Derby horse.” Over the next five weeks I became enamored with several other horses including the Japanese runners and ended up dismissing Mage to the tune of 15-1. Now jumping back on board at such a short price is not exactly appealing. However, his Derby win was very good and this colt is not facing a very tough looking group. He showed enough tactical speed in his debut, wiring a group of seven going seven furlongs, he should be able to be closer to the lead here with a good break. He should get a good trip sitting closer to the front than many envision and if the quick turnaround does not do him in, he should be very tough to beat here.
The return of Bob Baffert to the Triple Crown series as he seeks his record eighth win in this race. After running third to Forte in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile he came back with a decent effort in a third-place finish in the Sham (G3), beaten a length. The runner up Newgate came back to win the Robert B. Lewis (G2) for Baffert. He was a disappointing fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) while in the care of Tim Yakteem. Only two horses have exited that race to run back and just one in the Run for the Roses, Mandarin Hero checking in 12th. One in Vermillion came out of the Santa Anita Derby to win the Laz Barrera (G3) in his next outing. Drawing the rail with blinkers on, Johnny V figures to send him and he likely will be on the lead or sitting just off the pace. The 4-1 looks fair but he may end up going off lighter depending on how much action First Mission gets.