© USA Today
With Kentucky Derby long shot winner Rich Strike not in the field, the 147th Preakness lost a little luster. For bettors and handicappers, the question is whether the middle jewel of the Triple Crown will provide a more predictable result.
It almost has to. Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby at 80-1, the longest shot in the 20-horse field. The Derby winner’s connections subsequently decided to pass on the Preakness and instead prepare for the Belmont Stakes.
The Preakness field of nine is led by Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter, the 6-5 morning line favorite. (Epicenter would be favored even if Rich Strike were running.)
Two other Kentucky Derby runners are in the Preakness field: Simplification (fourth) and Happy Jack (14th), along with Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath, a filly taking on the boys at Pimlico in Baltimore.
A comprehensive look at the second jewel of the 2022 Triple Crown, with odds, analysis and selections:
Analysis of 2022 Preakness Field
In order of morning-line odds
Epicenter (6-5): Shook clear in stretch of Kentucky Derby only to be run down in final strides by long shot Rich Strike. Deserving favorite has fastest speed figures in field and adaptable running style. Clearly the horse to beat, but at a very short price.
Early Voting (7-2): Is 2-for-3 lifetime, the lone loss by a neck when caught late in the Wood Memorial. Connections passed on the Derby to prepare for this, a formula that worked for their 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing. Front-running style would benefit from more moderate early pace than Derby.
Secret Oath (9-2): Kentucky Oaks winner can become the seventh filly to win the Preakness. Took on the boys once before in the Arkansas Derby and finished third behind Cyberknife and Barber Road, who were non-factors in Kentucky Derby. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won Preakness six times.
Simplification (6-1): Fourth-place Kentucky Derby finisher, pictured, was beaten only 3 1/2-lengths after wide trip, but never a threat to win. Another step forward makes him a contender here. Loses jockey Jose Ortiz to Early Voting but picks up Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Creative Minister (10-1): Won an allowance race on Derby day undercard and is a neck away from being unbeaten in three lifetime starts. Improving colt wasn’t nominated to Preakness, but owners paid $150,000 supplement to take a swing here.
Armagnac (12-1): Exits front-running allowance score at Santa Anita last time out. Southern California shipper is 0-for-2 in stakes races, failing to hit the board both times. Likely to be an early factor and could help shape pace of the race.
Skippylongstocking (20-1): Was third in the Wood Memorial, 3 1/2-lengths behind runner-up Early Voting. Just two victories in nine career races and 0-for-3 in stakes races. Seems a cut below top contenders, but might be worth considering on deep exotic tickets.
Happy Jack (30-1): Hard to see him turning the tables on Epicenter and Simplification after finishing 19 lengths back in the Derby with no apparent excuse. Beaten double-digit lengths in his last four starts, though two were third-place finishes.
Fenwick (50-1): The Preakness equivalent to Rich Strike in terms of odds. Just one lifetime victory in a maiden race. Most recent outing was a last-place finish in Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Lightning unlikely to strike twice.
2022 Preakness Selections
EARLY VOTING can win if he takes a small step forward and is able to dictate or sit just off a moderate early pace and handle the distance. That’s a lot of ifs. But 7-2 or higher is solid value on horse trained by Chad Brown, who in 2017 patiently skipped the Derby and won the Preakness with Cloud Computing.
EPICENTER is the logical favorite and most likely winner and will be bet accordingly. His runner-up Kentucky Derby finish was outstanding and his versatile running style gives him a tactical advantage. But he’s not unbeatable. Two of his last four races were losses to long shots Call Me Midnight and Rich Strike. At even money or less, there’s not much value.
CREATIVE MINISTER was not nominated to the Preakness, so the owners paid the $150,000 supplement to enter the grey colt in this spot. That’s a bold move for a horse who has never run in a stakes race. This is a big step forward from his allowance win on the Kentucky Derby undercard, but he may be good enough to grab a minor slice.
SIMPLIFICATION has plenty of stakes experience, including a win in the Fountain of Youth, third in the Florida Derby and fourth in the Kentucky Derby. Holds a class edge over several others in this field and is a must-use on trifecta and superfecta tickets.
2022 Preakness Info
When: Saturday, May 21
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore
Post Time: 7:01 p.m. (ET)