Missing key Derby horses, Preakness show carries on

Watch the second jewel in the Triple Crown on Saturday on WAVE 3 News

Missing key Derby horses, Preakness show carries on
Mike Hartnett is one of WAVE 3 News' expert horse handicappers.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Just think how fascinating the middle jewel of the Triple Crown might have been if the declared-Derby winner, Country House, was getting a rematch with disqualified winner Maximum Security.

Alas, this rematch is put on hold. Maybe another 3-year-old can make a statement and jump into the spotlight by capturing the Preakness this Saturday at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course.

Thirteen horses have been entered for Saturday’s Preakness, including four who contested the Kentucky Derby, along with nine new arrivals to the Triple Crown fray.

We’ll first look at those who ran at Churchill Downs starting with War of Will. Once again, he’s drawn the short straw as far as post positions go. The colt drew the one hole in the Derby and he gets the one hole at Pimlico. This post might not end up all that challenging for War of Will’s jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, but it could be an issue. They’ve got to try to nail a good position without getting pinned down on the rail.

In the Derby, War of Will was right there at the top of the stretch. While he did fade, he did have a really good excuse. I think he could run big in Baltimore. Remember, the colt was coming off a long layoff between the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby. He suffered a mild injury during that race at Fair Grounds, and couldn’t put forth a strong effort. Maybe his Derby tightened him up for the second jewel.

Improbable is the morning-line favorite for the Preakness, and based on his past efforts, he should be. It would seem the Churchill track was not his favorite surface, as he was pretty much fifth or sixth during most of his Derby bid. Prior to his fourth-place finish in Louisville, the colt turned in a gutsy run in the Arkansas Derby, finishing second by a length behind Omaha Beach.

Still you have to face the fact that Improbable is 0-for-3 so far this year. But his trainer, Bob Baffert, must believe in this guy, as Baffert wheels him back in two weeks. Also in Improbable’s favor is his new jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

That brings us to Win Win Win, who hasn’t been living up to his moniker, having lost three in a row. The colt was sort of a buzz horse in Louisville, but ran an uninspiring ninth in the Derby.

Like War of Will, Bodexpress also had a tough encounter with the Maximum Security incident at Churchill. Bodexpress has yet to reach the winner’s circle and it’s hard to envision him getting his very first win at Pimlico.

That brings us to some new shooters at the Preakness. Anothertwistafate has a shot. He’s been knocking on the door with a pair of second-place finishes in his last two starts. Then there’s the Maryland-based Alwaysmining. He’s on a roll, having taken his last six races. Still, Alwaysmining is running in graded-stakes company for the first time.

Owendale is coming off a top performance with his solid victory in Keeneland’s Lexington Stakes. Owendale was fast in that race and could be live for trainer Brad Cox.

Baffert once told me, some 15 years back, that the best horses run in the Derby and I believe that he’s on the money. That’s one reason I’m taking War of Will first, with Improbable second in the Preakness. You’ll see the race on WAVE 3 News and NBC Sports on Saturday beginning at 5 p.m.

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