Kentucky Derby winner Mage is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the Preakness Stakes racing odds as he prepares to face seven new shooters in the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.
Mage roared down the stretch after a wide trip to win the Derby on May 6 at 15-1 odds and at least four horses appear to have the resume to compete with him in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. Mage drew the 3 post for Race 13 on the card, which is slated for 7:01 p.m. ET (NBC).
The lightly raced son of Good Magic is still improving and this race should test his endurance after an all-out effort in the Derby to edge Two Phil’s. None of his Derby competitors followed him to Pimlico and there does not seem to be much speed to set up the type of rally Mage made at Churchill Downs.
“We’re just waiting to see how much he has in the well of talent. Every day, he’s showing more and more signs of maturation and understanding his job as a racehorse,” Ramiro Restrepo, one of Mage’s many co-owners, told the Paulick Report.
Lexington Stakes winner First Mission, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s National Treasure, along with closers Red Route One and Blazing Sevens, have the best shots to beat Mage if you are Preakness Stakes live betting.
New Shooters Dominant
Just one of the last seven Kentucky Derby winners has followed with a Preakness victory (Justify, 2018).
In addition, the last three and four of the past five Preakness champs did not run in the Derby, although Swiss Skydiver competed in the Kentucky Oaks (2020)
Mage did not race as a 2-year-old, starting his career on Jan.28 at Gulfstream in his only other win – a seven-furlong maiden special weight. Trainer Gustavo Delgado’s colt ran fourth in the Fountain of Youth and made a big run before settling for second behind Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ Forte in the Florida Derby.
The 1 3/16-mile distance and tight turns at Pimlico should not bother Mage, but we will see whether the grind of the last few months — and especially the 1 ¼-mile Derby battle – will.
There’s no doubt Mage could prove his morning line is accurate Saturday, but we will try to beat him.
On a Mission?
Trainer Brad Cox had a big stable of competitors on the Derby Trail, but late bloomer First Mission never got a chance to earn enough points.
The son of Street Sense began his career in late February and impressively won the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 15 to set up Saturday’s opportunity to move up in class. First Mission breaks from the outside post (8) as the second choice at 5-2 in the racebook and could be ready to show how good he is.
Kentucky Derby winner Mage galloping this morning at Churchill Downs. pic.twitter.com/5ENmX3g0Xl
— Kevin Kerstein (@HorseRacingKK) May 11, 2023
“I think he’s got to take a step forward. I think he will take a step forward,” Cox told Horse Racing Nation. “He’s given me every reason to be super confident with what he’s done in the mornings.”
The other horse that could be a big problem for Mage is National Treasure on the rail. Baffert’s colt, who was third in the BC Juvenile but has not run well this year, could go for the lead in what could be a relatively paceless race. Hall of Fame Jockey John Velasquez will be aboard and Baffert has won the Preakness seven times.
National Treasure is 4-1 on the ML and may give your Preakness Stakes picks some value.
Can Closers Get There?
While anything can happen Saturday, there does not seem to be anywhere near the speed duel that we saw in the Derby.
That does not bode well for betting the most talented closers in the field — Red Route One (5) and Blazing Sevens (7). That does not mean they are not interesting if Mage, National Treasure and First Mission don’t have their best form.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s Red Route One will have jockey Joel Rosario aboard and the Gun Runner colt rebounded from a sixth in the Arkansas Derby to win a listed stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 22.
Blazing Sevens, who won the Champagne Stakes in the slop at Aqueduct last year, has struggled since but showed some improvement for trainer Chad Brown last time out in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland )fourth) if you are online gambling.
Throw Outs, Picks
We think five horses can win the race while three would be a major surprise.
Chase the Chaos (2) is a late closer who has been seventh and eighth in two races since getting an automatic spot in the Preakness by winning the El Camino Derby. Coffeewithchris (4) could show speed and is the only horse in the field with a win at Pimlico, but appears outclassed. Perform (6) was impressive while winning the Federico Tesio Stakes, but is facing much tougher here.
I have been wanting to pick Red Route One throughout the year, but I just don’t think Rosario can get him there. I’m betting First Mission is the real deal, but I would take a shot with National Treasure on top as well.
- Bet: 1,8 with 3,5,8 with 1,3,5,7,8 trifecta
Keep an eye on horse racing news before the big race.