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Preakness Stakes Preview: Owendale an each-way play

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Timeform's expert US handicapper Mark Milligan previews the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on Saturday evening and picks out his best bet.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the controversial Kentucky Derby disqualification of Maximum Security, one thing is certain, we won’t see a US Triple Crown winner this year. With the chance to make history no longer on the line, Maximum Security was quickly ruled out of this weekend’s Preakness, while the promoted ‘Run for the Roses’ winner Country House was reported to be sick in the aftermath of the race and was also scratched.

As ever in the Preakness, though, the Kentucky Derby form is still strongly represented, with the first two in the betting having both run solid races at Churchill Downs a fortnight ago. Improbable, who represents the irrepressible partnership of Bob Baffert and Mike Smith, was only beaten just over three lengths, despite not seemingly enjoying the sloppy track. His previous second-place finish behind Omaha Beach in the Arknasas Derby at Oaklawn was also attained in the slop, and though Improbable ran well in both races, he strikes as being a better horse on a drier surface, which he should get this weekend.

War of Will, not too far behind Improbable at Churchill Downs, was one of those who suffered when Maximum Security caused interference on the turn. It probably didn’t affect his finishing positon too much, but certainly wasn’t ideal. Drawn on the inside in the Kentucky Derby, War of Will has again got the rail here, and that may cause him a few traffic issues if he isn’t smartly into stride. Another concern with War of Will is that he’s a keen-going sort who seemed to race quite freely at Churchill Downs despite the strong pace. He strikes as the type who needs plenty to go right and is probably best passed over at a short-enough price.

Bourbon War didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby, but brings interweaving form lines into this race via his fourth-place finish to Maximum Security in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream in March. Prior to the Florida Derby, he’d run well to finish second to Code of Honor in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at the same track, and is still unexposed after just five starts. An off-the-pace runner to date, the blinkers go on Bourbon War in an effort to sharpen him up.

Owendale and Anothertwistafate are quite closely matched on form having finished 1-2 in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in April. That was a much-improved effort from Owendale on the day, and the final time backs up the performance, suggesting it was no fluke. Prior to that, Owendale didn’t have the best of trips in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, and he looks a horse on the up. Anothertwistafate was seemingly beaten on merit by Owendale last time, and he’s a consistent perfomer who should run his race, though a wide draw makes things tricky for one who tends to race towards the head of affairs.

The wild card in the race may be the locally-trained Alwaysmining, who has been mopping up minor stakes races at Laurel Park in the last few months. His speed figures suggest he is worth a place in this line up, though he’ll need to find a little improvement to be a genuine contender. However, such has been his upwardly-mobile trajectory at lower levels that further progression can’t be ruled out.

In summary, while not the deepest of races, this year’s Preakness has several layers of intrigue, and while it’s tough to go against the Baffert/Smith combination, Improbable is priced accordingly. Looking at the current odds, the one who seems overpriced is Owendale, a three-year-old on the up who comes into this having not endured the rough and tumble of the Kentucky Derby. Likely to get the race run to suit, and from a stable in red-hot form, Owendale is worth chancing each-way at around 14/1.

Recommendation:

Back Owendale each-way in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico

 

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CURRAGH 19:05

Friday 24 May
4. CONSTANTINOPLE (IRE) 118p
Ryan Moore silk Ryan Moore horse in focus
Aidan O'Brien, Ireland hot trainer
1. ANTILLES (USA) 117
W. M. Lordan silk W. M. Lordan
Aidan O'Brien, Ireland hot trainer
3. BUCKHURST (IRE) 111p
Donnacha O'Brien silk Donnacha O'Brien
Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland
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21:00 CHELMSFORD CITY

1st Darragh Keenan silk 9. ROCK IN SOCIETY (IRE) 8/19
2nd Faye McManoman silk 11. QUEEN OF KALAHARI 12/113
3rd Fergus Sweeney silk ¾ 10. CRISTAL PALLAS CAT (IRE) 7/18
J: Darragh Keenan (5)  
T: John Butler  
13 ran. NRs: 16  4  5 
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20:40 SANDOWN PARK

1st Jamie Spencer silk 5. LUSH LIFE (IRE) 11/43.75
2nd Ryan Moore silk nk 3. WAR GLORY (IRE) 11/26.5
3rd Jason Watson silk hd 4. HISTORY WRITER (IRE) 9/43.25f
8 ran. NRs: 1  6 
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20:30 CHELMSFORD CITY

1st Adam McNamara silk 11. MURAAQEB 6/17
2nd Sophie Ralston silk hd 7. DOR'S LAW 25/126
3rd Hector Crouch silk nk 9. LUXFORD 12/113
All 15 ran.
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20:20 TIPPERARY

1st Mr D. L. Queally silk 3. UISCE SOLAS (IRE) 7/18
2nd Ms Lisa O'Neill silk 9. DOMITIAN (IRE) 10/111
3rd Mr T. Hamilton silk 4 5. LADY BREFFNI (IRE) 7/18
J: Mr D. L. Queally (3)  
9 ran. NRs: 8 
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20:10 SANDOWN PARK

1st Frankie Dettori silk 4. KING OF COMEDY (IRE) 9/43.25f
2nd Andrea Atzeni silk 7. ROSEMAN (IRE) 8/19
3rd Ryan Moore silk 1. SANGARIUS 11/26.5
T: John Gosden  
All 8 ran.
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19:55 CHELMSFORD CITY

1st Nicky Mackay silk 1. STAR OF BENGAL 1/12f
2nd Pat Cosgrave silk ½ 6. EXEC CHEF (IRE) 9/25.5
3rd Ben Curtis silk 8. DARK RED (IRE) 10/111
J: Nicky Mackay  
T: John Gosden  
All 8 ran.
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19:45 TIPPERARY

1st P. Townend silk 1. ASK AND ANSWER (IRE) 7/18
2nd Davy Russell silk 2 7. DARLING MISS (IRE) 10/111
3rd Sean Flanagan silk hd 14. AHGETAWAYOUTADAT (IRE) 14/115
4th A. P. Kelly silk 4. OPEN TO THE WORLD (IRE) 25/126
J: P. Townend  
18 ran. NRs: 6 
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19:35 SANDOWN PARK

1st Ryan Moore silk 6. REGAL REALITY 9/43.25
2nd Joe Fanning silk 5. MATTERHORN (IRE) 11/82.37f
J: Ryan Moore  
All 6 ran.
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19:25 CHELMSFORD CITY

1st Robert Winston silk 5. BADENSCOTH 9/25.5
2nd Gerald Mosse silk 4. GLOBAL ART 11/43.75f
T: Dean Ivory  
6 ran. NRs: 1  3 
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