Preakness Picks: Can Anyone Stop Mage?
PREAKNESS PICKS: CAN ANYONE STOP MAGE – Number #3 Mage, lightly raced and coming off a monster Kentucky Derby win, is undoubtedly the colt to beat in today’s 148th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Raceway in Baltimore, MD.
He’s the only Derby combatant racing today. Give him another edge in experience and fitness.
His 105 Beyer speed rating is unheard of, and significantly better than his competition in this seven-horse field.
The downside is the price: with First Mission, the morning line’s second choice at 5-2 being scratched last night, Mage’s price will likely drop below even money, somewhere in the 3-5 range.
Also, he had a mile and one-half workout the other day, running the final three furlongs in 41.76 seconds. This shows you he’s lost nothing from two weeks ago.
That’s why he’ll bet down to less than even-money.
#6: Perform (15-1)
Perform didn’t set the world a blaze with his performance as a two-year old, but he’s shown some real grit at three. He’s won two of his last three starts – the most impressive being his Laurel Raceway romp at the Federico Tesio on April 15. I loved his stretch kick.
This was an impressive win, as he navigated his way to the top after stumbling out of the gate and getting a horrific trip.
I like him hanging around the middle of the pack and busting through the stretch.
Another big factor: his trainer Shug McGaughey convinced his owners to pony up $150,000 to qualify him for this race after the Tesio win.
What did he see that we didn’t? The colt has lifetime earnings of only $20K, so why make that investment? Trainers don’t last long wasting the owner’s money. BTW, the 150 large increased the purse to $1.65 million. He’ll need to finish at least third to get his money back. It’s like watching the board for early money. Something is up here to put up $150K in entry fees to buy in.
Money talks, nobody walks.
#5: Red Route One (10-1)
He’s the closer in the race. He’ll be last going into the far turn and will need the best kick of his life to catch the wire in front. I’d like him better and a quarter. This a shorter race than the Derby at one mile and three-sixteenths.
#1: National Treasure (4-1)
This is all about Bob Baffert, who has been banned from racing in Kentucky. Two straight bullet workouts from the rail indicate Baffert will send him and try to wire the field by backing down the half. The problem I have here is that although he’ll run as the pacesetter, he’s really not improved as a three-year old. His other problem is #4 Coffee With Chris who will like press him for the lead through the first quarter.
#7: Blazing Sevens (6-1)
This horse factors because he’s the only other Grade 1 stakes winner besides Mage in the race. Trainer Chad Brown has won two Preakness Stakes races since 2017 by keeping Preakness winner out of the Derby—and keeping them fresh. Brown is using that same game plan this year.
#4: Coffee With Chris (20-1)
He faded in the Tesio after setting the pace and spit the bit down the stretch, finishing fifth. No factor here. Might try to waste Baffert’s colt early with an early speed bid. That’s about it.
#2: Chase The Chaos (50-1)
He won the El Camino Real Derby in Golden Gate in February. Since then he’s run seventh in the San Felipe in the dirt at Santa Anita and eighth on synthetic surface back at Golden Gate.