The 2022 Preakness Stakes might be as unpredictable as this year’s shocking Kentucky Derby. When the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown is run Saturday at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course (7:01 pm ET post time, NBC), most of the horses from Louisville’s Churchill Downs will be missing two weeks later.
Even with Derby winner Rich Strike out of the field to remove any chance of a Triple Crown and neither Taiba nor Zandon having an opportunity to rebound, there’s still plenty of reason to watch, led by how new clear favorite Epicenter can fare against mostly new horses in a much smaller field.
Need help picking your horse in the 147th running of the Preakness? Here’s everything to know, topped by updated odds and capped by SN’s expert picks.
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Preakness 2022 lines, odds, post positions
Here are the official track odds for the 2022 Preakness field, set by Pimlico Race Course oddsmaker Keith Feustie as of May 16. They will be updated before Saturday’s race.
|No 6||Happy Jack||30-1|
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What are Epicenter’s chances to win?
The low-paying odds on Epicenter make sense, given it took a ridiculously perfect inside-outside late charge orchestrated by jockey Sonny Leon for Rich Strike to win. Epicenter was clipped just as it was winning its much anticipated final-stretch duel with Zandon.
Steve Asmussen, for all his training success, has yet to catch a break at the Derby. But he’s won the Preakness twice, with Curlin’ in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra in ’09. Epicenter still had a great Derby experience and will welcome the shorter distance in the Preakness.
Staying the course with his recent work and with hot, sunny weather in the forecast, Epicenter will be a hard horse to beat with Rich Strike and Zandon out of the picture.
Which Preakness post positions have been the most advantageous?
No. 6 delivered with its third win since 2008 with Rombauer winning from there last season. No. 5 has seen two horses win in that same 14-year span. In 2020, the No. 4 post’s 13-year drought ended with the filly Swiss Skydiver finally following up Curlin’ from 2007. Although No. 4 turned out very poorly for Derby winner Always Dreaming in ’17, that position has now produced 14 winners in the past 118 years.
No. 7 was lucky for Justify in ’18 and for another Bob Baffert horse, Looking at Lucky in ’10. Since Sunday Silence in ’89, six horses have won from No. 7, good for near 20 percent over a 33-year span. That should provide some confidence to Tim Yakteen’s new entry from him, Armagnac, after neither of his two former Baffert horses, Taiba or Messier, could win the Derby.
Derby holdover Happy Jack is unlikely to match Rombauer from No. 6, but Secret Oath from No. 4 will welcome the favorable history running next to strong Early Voting out of No. 5.
Somewhere in the middle has been consistently the best spot, but the lowest numbers have been kind of late. War of Will upset Unlikely out of No. 1 in 2019. American Pharoah also won from No. 1 on its way to the Triple Crown in ’15, following California Chrome from No. 3 in ’14. In ’17, Cloud Computing shocked everyone out of No. 2.
That should put everyone on high alert for Simplification, the fourth-place Derby finisher, running with some separation away from the Preakness favorites at No. 1.
How many horses have won the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby?
Thirteen horses have won the Triple Crown, finishing off the Derby and the Preakness by also taking the Belmont Stakes, most recently Justify in 2018. Another 11 have won the first two jewels before failing to make history at Belmont. Baffert, suspended for this Preakness, had this happen three times before Justify and American Pharoah in ’15: I’ll Have Another in ’12 and California Chrome in ’14.
This year, with surprise longshot Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike scratched and resting for Belmont, whoever wins at Pimlico will settle for attempting a back-end “double crown”, joining the list of 18 horses that have won both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes without winning the Derby.
Which trainer should you trust most in the Preakness?
Asmussen has the multiple wins coming in with Epicenter, but no one can match legendary D. Wayne Lukas, who is looking for his seventh Preakness victory with the filly Safety Oath.
Kenneth McPeek is trying to make it two for three in the Preakness with Creative Minister after Swiss Skydiver delivered for him in 2020. Chad Brown, trainer of the intriguing Early Voting, got on the board with Cloud Computing five years ago. Doug O’Neill is looking for more Preakness glory with Happy Jack, 10 years after his first and only win with I’ll Have Another.
Without Baffert, all the other contemporary training titans are represented. Lukas can feel good about fillies suddenly becoming a factor at Pimlico, with two in the past 13 years winning after an 85-year drought.
Which jockey has the best chance to get the most out of his Preakness ride?
Tyler Gaffalione, aboard Happy Jack, is the most recent Preakness winner riding War of Will in 2019. Believe or not, he’s also the only previous Preakness winner in the field.
But the horse to watch here is Simplification, which trades out Jose Ortiz (Early Voting) for John Velazquez. Velazquez struggled with Messier (15th). in the Derby, but he’s a five-time champion overall in Triple Crown events.
Which Kentucky Derby also-ran is most likely to push Epicenter in the Preakness?
The choices are down to Happy Jack, who finished 14th at Churchill Downs, and Simplification, who had an overachieving fourth just outside of showing. The easy lean is Simplification, despite a strong training and jockey team behind Happy Jack.
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Which new horse in the field can pull the big Preakness upset?
Simplification and Epicenter should worry most about Secret Oath, who won at Churchill Downs on May 7 — in the Kentucky Oaks. She will be looking to become the sixth filly to win the Preakness, a slightly longer distance than her race from her two weeks ago. She also finished third at the Arkansas Derby, a race won by Derby horse Cyberknife.
Secret Oath has been running well and has some momentum. Early Voting can helped, too, by Brown’s influence all the way through the race. He has been grooming him to take the Preakness, including a second place at the Wood Memorial.
Preakness 2022 picks
Simplification’s simple shift to Velazquez should paid off for owner Tami Bobo. He exceeded expectations at the Derby and should feel good about having a little more room to operate. Epicenter will be game and Safety Oath will take advantage of her fresh legs from her, too.
Simplification seems to be the sweet spot between past performance and future potential. He’s the only horse who can push and pass Epicenter, while Safety Oath and Early Voting fade late.
|Show: Safety Oath|
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism