Nine sophomores will compete in the second leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday at Pimlico. The $1.5 million Preakness S. (G1) attracted a fine cast of three-year-olds set to tackle the much-anticipated 1 3/16-mile dirt test.

Early Voting gave a fine impression of himself on debut when winning a one-mile maiden special weight event on December 18 at Aqueduct. The $200,000 son of Gun Runner went postward as the favorite in the Withers S. (G3) next time out and led in gate-to-wire fashion while making his stakes debut, crossing the line a facile 4 1/2 lengths in front.

The Kentucky-bred was caught late when posting a neck defeat in the subsequent Wood Memorial S. (G2), and he has trained well since suffering his lone setback. The fleet colt drew inside the other pace in the race and will be the one to catch on Saturday with regular pilot Jose Ortiz in the silks. He is the Expert Pick of the Week.

The Steve Asmussen-trained Epicenter did everything right but win in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs in his latest appearance. Sent postward as the 4-1 favorite in Louisville, the son of Not This Time accelerated to the front in early stretch and seemed destined for the tally only to be reeled in late.

Epicenter has had his races well spaced throughout 2022, and I fully feel that his connections had planned on running in each of the three legs of the Triple Crown all along. The $260,000 yearling purchase worked an easy half-mile beneath the Twin Spires on Monday and will be all set for Pimlico. He is the one to beat under regular pilot Joel Rosario.

Kentucky Oaks (G1) starlet Secret Oath has compiled a fine résumé this season and has already proven to be capable of running with the boys following her third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1) two prior. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the Arrogate chestnut can run all day and possesses a potent turn of foot, and her best race will have her in the mix turning for home in this classic. Luis Saez retains the mount atop the fantastic filly.

Expert Pick

A trifecta with #5 Early Voting on top of #8 Epicenter and #4 Secret Oath in the Preakness Stakes is the Best Bet of the Week.

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