Bob Bafferts Improbable Gets The Nod As Early Preakness Stakes Favorite

The field for the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course as the highlight of this Saturday’s card is filled a few entries coming off a recent run in the Kentucky Derby along with a group of three-year-old thoroughbreds making their Triple Crown racing series debut.

Along with a few favorites at the top of the betting list, there a couple of other strong contenders including my top choice as ‘one to watch’ in this 1 3/16 miles race on the dirt at Pimlico. The total prize purse for this year’s Preakness is $1.5 million.

Betting the Top Contenders

Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert had the top three favorites in this last Kentucky Derby under his watch, but neither of the three colts was able to finish in the money. This time around, he is limited to just one entry in Saturday’s Preakness, but that colt is the best on the board as the early favorite.

Improbable closed as one of two 5/1 second-favorites to win the Kentucky Derby and he ended up fourth in the final adjusted running order behind Country House, Code of Honor and Tacitus. All three of those three-year old thoroughbreds have decided to skip the Preakness for one reason or another leaving this Kentucky-bred colt as the probable favorite on the morning line.

This sire of City Zip with a bloodline that can be traced all the way back to Seattle Slew made a huge splash as a juvenile with a trio of first-place finishes. He is still searching for his first victory as a three-year old after taking second behind Long Range Toddy in one division of the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and second behind Omaha Beach in this year’s Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

The likely second-favorite to win the Preakness is trainer Mark Casse’s War of Will. Starting from the No. 1 post in the Kentucky Derby, he was involved in the bumping incident that led to the disqualification of Maximum Security as the original winner of that race. This Kentucky-bred colt went on to finish seventh at Churchill.

The son of War Front lost quite a bit of stock as a top Derby contender after fading to ninth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in his final prep race. However, he still has a pair of victories at that track in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes and the Grade 2 Risen Star on his three-year old racing resume.

One to Watch

The other two probable entries in Saturday’s field coming off a run in the Kentucky Derby are Win Win Win (9th) and Bodexpress (13th). One newcomer to the Triple Crown racing series receiving quite a bit of attention is trainer Kelly Rubley’s Alwaysmining after winning the ungraded Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park on April 20.

When it comes to my top “one to watch’ in this race, I am going with Signalman. Trained by Ken McPeek, he caught my eye in early April with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland behind Vekoma and Win Win Win. As a two-year old, he also finished third in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind Game Winner and Knicks Go. A pedigree of General Quarters, he has already demonstrated the ability to compete in a strong field and I have him making his way into the money again on Saturday at Pimlico.