History favors Kentucky Derby runners in the Preakness Stakes. The winner typically looms large and Justify will be an overwhelming favorite when the field lines up for Saturday’s 143rd Preakness at Pimlico.
Thirty-one of the last 35 Preakness winners contested the Kentucky Derby, including four in the last eight years who were defeated at Churchill Downs: Exaggerator (2nd), Oxbow (6th), Shackleford (4th) and Lookin at Lucky (6th).
American Pharoah snapped a 37-year drought when capturing the Triple Crown in 2015 but 12 horses managed to sweep the first two legs of the series during the interim: Pleasant Colony (1981), Alysheba (1987), Sunday Silence (1989), Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Charismatic (1999), War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004), Big Brown (2008), I’ll Have Another (2012) and California Chrome (2014).
The final leg in the series, the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes, often plays the role of the spoiler and sets up better for a new shooter (a horse joining the Triple Crown series) than the Preakness.
At Wednesday’s post position draw, Justify is expected to head a four-horse Kentucky Derby contingent that includes probable Preakness second choice Good Magic. The 2-year-old champion and Blue Grass (G2) winner made a run at Justify nearing the completion of the far turn in the Kentucky Derby and gamely held second in a valiant performance.
Good Magic faces an imposing challenge, but the classy colt clearly rates as the most likely winner if Justify comes up short.
Bravazo may be the third choice in the wagering after outperforming 66-1 odds in a sixth-place finish. Bettors will be cognizant of D. Wayne Lukas, a six-time Preakness winner who sent Oxbow to a 15-1 Preakness upset in 2013 after a sixth in the Kentucky Derby.
By virtue of a 13-1 upset last year, Cloud Computing joined the ranks of Red Bullet (2000), Bernardini (2006) and Rachel Alexandra (2009) as Preakness winners who didn’t compete in the Kentucky Derby. Aloma’s Ruler and Deputed Testamony were the last non-Kentucky Derby starters to win back-to-back editions in 1982-83.
The four horses expected to join the Triple Crown series in the 2018 Preakness -- Diamond King, Quip, Sporting Chance and Tenfold – appear up against it as massive longshots.