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Don’t Make Any Decisions Until You Read This National Race Masters Preakness Preview
From The NRM Staff – Weds. 9/30/20 

First there was a 37 year gap from Affirmed’s Triple Crown win in 1978 and that by American Pharoah in 2015 and only 3 years later in 2018 by Justify. 

This year, once Tiz The Law was defeated in the Kentucky Derby by Authentic and the connections of Tiz The Law decided to skip the Preakness and train up to the Breeders’ Cup, recent (reconfigure date-wise) Kentucky Derby winner Authentic is now the only three-year old in the Preakness field which could claim two of the three legs of the upside-don 2020 Triple Crown. And if history provides any evidentiary backdrop, winning two out of three isn’t all that easy either. 

This fact alone does not preclude Authentic from winning the Preakness Stakes, but with the very likelihood that Authentic will be favored at post time over Art Collector, it is important to consider that the public money on Authentic will, based on the history of the Triple Crown, be an underlay.  

More to the point, since 2009 only two 3-year olds other than American Pharoah and Justify have won two legs of the Triple Crown, California Chrome in 2014 and I’ll Have Another in 2012 while between 1989 and 2008 a total of 14 three-year olds won a pair of Triple Crown races. 

We bring his up because it shows just how wide open the series has become in recent years and might very well be again in 2020 as our 5 National Race Masters dig into every aspect of the running of the this Saturday, October 3 at Pimlico. 

(11 THREE-YEAR OLDS TO CONTEST 145TH PREAKNESS STAKES) 

Earlier this week a field of 11 sophomores, including the filly Swiss Skydiver drew posts for the Preakness Stakes. 

While the shifting of the traditional Triple Crown race dates due to COVID-19 might have thinned out the herd by the time thy reached Saturday’s Preakness the race still drew a significantly large enough cast to make this a solid wagering opportunity for those with the right information. Authentic, a winner of five of six career starts, including the Kentucky Derby 4 Saturdays ago at Churchill Downs. for trainer Bob Baffert, will face 10 rivals Saturday, including the grade 1-winning filly Swiss Skydiver, who faced males before when she was second to Preakness starter Art Collector in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2). 

While those three figure to control a large percentage of the pool as the three post time favorites, that in no way signifies that this is a three horse race. 

(LET’S PLAY A GAME WE CALL WHAT IF?) 

When a colt like Authentic wins the Kentucky Derby, he is easy to pot. When a colt like Art Collector wins a pair of key 3-year old stakes in a row, the Grade 2 Blue grass Stakes and the Ellis Park Derby to bookend 5 wins in a ow, and when a filly as tough as Swiss Skydiver, who finished second to Art Collector in the Blue Grass Stakes tries the boys again, those are easy to see competitors. But what about the other eight competitors. 

Let’s take a brief look from the rail out. 

#1 Excession (30-1) – What if the late running son of Union Rags, one of trainer Steve Asmussen’s three Preakness runners duplicates his last race, when he ran second at 82-1 to Nadal (a Bob Baffert trainee who was at the time was one of the front runners for the Triple Crown) in the Rebel Stakes? That would certainly toss the apple cart ass over tea-kettle, or something like that. 

#2 Mr. Big News (12-1) – What if the son of Giant’s causeway gets a faster pace in the Preakness (it can be argue there is more speed in here) than he did in the Kentucky Derby when he rallied 5 wide into a so-so pace yet still grabbed show honors at 46-1.  

#3 Art Collector (5-2) – Missed the Kentucky Derby with a slight injury setback but 5 straight victories have definitely earned him the outpouring of public support he will get at the windows. But what if that “slight” injury did set him back? 

#4 Swiss Skydiver (6-1) – The issue with a filly, especially a popular filly such as this multiple graded stakes winner is that just by virtue of bringing her own story to the race, she gets more support from the “public” bettor than she should. While she did finish second to Art Collator in the Blue Grass Stakes, that race did not come up all that strong, and she was beaten by her own sex (at 2-5) in the Kentucky Oaks in her most recent.

#5 Thousand Words (6-1) – The “other Bob Baffert trainee who went nuts in the paddock when getting saddled for the Kentucky Derby and had to be scratched. At the time, Baffert considered the son of Pioneerof the Nile on a par with stablemate Authentic. Will he be on Saturday, off a pair of solid drills

#6 Jesus’ Team (30-1) – This guy I one of those “hangin’ around and hangin’ around type youngsters who would not be a huge surprise if he gets a piece. He was not disgraced behind Authentic and Ny Traffic in the Grade 1 Haskell, or behind Mystic Guide and Liveyourbeastlife in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga in his lat. He has the kind of tactical speed that plays well at Old Hilltop. 

#7 Ny Traffic (15-1) – Speaking of tactical speed, this son of Cross Traffic has it in spades. Excuse the late fade from the tough 12 post in the Kentucky Derby and his nose loss to Authentic in the Haskell Stakes, second to Maxfield, who before his injuries was the front runner for 3-year old honors, in the Matt Winn Stakes and second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and you’ve got a nicely credentialed 15-1 shot.  

#8 Max Player (15-1) – What if he is not the late-running, pick up minor pieces kind of runner bettors can be forgiven for abandoning, but a colt that has yet to get the beat of trips? After his 5th behind Authentic in the Kentucky Derby new trainer Steve Asmussen (he saddled him for the first time in the Derby) had even considered not running. But a closer look at his horrendous break in the Belmont Stakes and 7 wide rally for third to Tiz The Law and when he was shuffled and closed wide for third in the Travers, again behind Tiz the Law perhaps a good break comes his way. Stakes. And what if, Asmussen’s engagement of hustling speed jockey Paco Lopez does the trick of getting Max Player closer early? How then might his late kick develop? 

#9 Authentic (8-5) – What if the Kentucky Derby winner “must” have the lead. In her last four races, all Graded Stakes tried he has won three times, and each of hose had the led out of the gate. In his only loss, in the Santa Anita Derby, he did not get to the front at the start and never poked his head in front. What if he is challenged by any of the apparent speedsters in here?

#10 Pneumatic (20-1) – What if the third of three Steve Asmussen trained runners is finally coming into his own? He is the most lightly raced in the field with 5 tries and 3 wins. He stalked the pace of the Pegasus Stakes and drew clear. That win followed a decent enough stalking trip 4TH in the Belmont Stakes when he was engaged for the first mile despite being  3-4 wide on the backstretch and far turn and 5 wide into the lane in just his fourth career start. Improvement such as what he showed from the Belmont to the Pegasus could produce yet another surprise runner.  

#11 Liveyourbeastlife (30-1) – What if he son of Ghostzapper is not simply a horse for course runner who soddenly woke up at Saratoga with his allowance win and strong 6-wide rally for second (beaten less than a length by Mystic Guide) in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, but a colt that improved significantly because he was finally sent around two turns after running his first 6 career races around one turn. Breeding suggests that he is not finished improving now that he’ll see both the clubhouse and far turns. 

See what we mean about playing the “What If” game. 

We can tell you that John Conte, who enters the Preakness after having picked the Belmont Winner, Exacta and Trifecta cold, plus the Kentucky Derby winner and exacta cold, Hank Goldberg, John Dasilva, Noel Michaels and Jim Hurley have not fallen in with the “Race Begins And Ends With Authentic, Art Collector and Swiss Skydiver” crowd. 

And perhaps you might consider a little “What If” of your own by checking out the offers from each of the 5 National Race Masters Handicappers. (See All The Details Here)