Magic Man’s Preview of the 2019 Preakness Stakes

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As I begin my preview of the 2019 Preakness, I have a few things to get off my chest.

First off I am very happy to report that the weather for Saturday’s running of the 144th Preakness will be absolutely beautiful. I for one am sick and tired of sloppy tracks littering such important races, especially the Triple Crown.

I am also thankful to finally move on from the debacle and controversy of the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. Let us focus on this middle leg of the Triple Crown and give Pimlico its rightful focus. Now I am not naive to think that NBC commentators won’t revisit the Derby storyline but I sure hope that their focus will eventually shift on to the Preakness enough for us to enjoy it in its own right.

We are in for a wide open race with 13 horses set to break. Improbable is the early favorite at 5-2 but there is a litany of contenders who on their best can win this edition of the Preakness. It makes the Magic Man’s task of finding the correct exacta box after I was close to hitting two weeks ago. My resolve is strong and I am not wavering in my confidence in finding the winning combo for my friend Ed Daniels and my readers. I shudder to think what kind of reception I’ll get when I appear on Saturday morning on the Three Tailgaters radio show. I have hit Preakness and Belmont exactas but that doggone Derby has proven elusive for me.

Let me get to what the Magic Man does best — picking winners. Below is my horse-by-horse preview of the 144th running of the Preakness.

RACE 13 Preakness S. (Grade I) POST TIME – 6:48 PM
PP (RACE 13)
Pimlico STAKES
Purse $1,500,000. For Three-Year-Olds. $15,000 to pass the entry box, starters to pay $15,000 additional. Supplemental nominations may be made in accordance with the rules, upon payment of $150,000, 60% of the purse to the winner, 20% to second, 11% to third, 6% to fourthand 3% to fifth. Weight 126 pounds for Colts and Geldings, 121 pounds for Fillies. A replica of the Woodlawn Vase will be presented to the winning owner to remain his or her personal property. One And Three Sixteenth Miles.
P# PP Horse Virtual
Stable A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1 War of Will (KY)
[ ] 3/C L T Gaffalione
126 M E Casse
2 2 Bourbon War (KY)
[ ] 3/C L I Ortiz, Jr.
126 M A Hennig
3 3 Warrior’s Charge (FL)
[ ] 3/C L J Castellano
126 B H Cox
4 4 Improbable (KY)
[ ] 3/C L M E Smith
126 B Baffert
5 5 Owendale (KY)
[ ] 3/C L F Geroux
126 B H Cox
6 6 Market King (KY)
[ ] 3/C L J K Court
126 D W Lukas
7 7 Alwaysmining (MD)
[ ] 3/G L D Centeno
126 K Rubley
8 8 Signalman (KY)
[ ] 3/C L B J Hernandez, Jr.
126 K G McPeek
9 9 Bodexpress (KY)
[ ] 3/C L J R Velazquez
126 G Delgado
10 10 Everfast (KY)
[ ] 3/C L J Rosario
126 D L Romans
11 11 Laughing Fox (KY)
[ ] 3/C L R Santana, Jr.
126 S M Asmussen
12 12 Anothertwistafate (KY)
[ ] 3/C L J L Ortiz
126 B D Wright
13 13 Win Win Win (FL)
[ ] 3/C L J Pimentel
126 M J Trombetta
Owners: 1 – Gary Barber ; 2 – Bourbon Lane Stable & Lake Star Stable ; 3 – Ten Strike Racing & Madaket Stables LLC ; 4 – WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd. & Starlight Racing ; 5 – Rupp Racing ; 6 – Robert C. Baker & William L. Mack ; 7 – Runnymede Racing LLC ; 8 -Tommie M. Lewis, Steve Crabtree, Dean Demaree, David Bersen, Jim Chambers & Magadalena Racing ; 9 – Top Racing, LLC, Global Thoroughbred & GDS Racing Stable ; 10 – Calumet Farm ; 11 – Alex & JoAnn Lieblong ; 12 – Peter Redekop B. C., Ltd. ; 13 – Live Oak Plantation
Breeders: 1 – Flaxman Holdings Limited; 2 – Conquest Stables, LLC; 3 – Al Shaquab Racing; 4 – St. George Farm LLC & G. WattsHumphrey Jr.; 5 – Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, LLC; 6 – Flaxman Holdings Limited; 7 – Avla Pitts; 8 – Monticule; 9 – Martha Jane Mulholland; 10 – Extern Developments; 11 – Chester & Anne Prince; 12 – Pursuit of Success LLC; 13 – Live Oak Stud
Pedigrees (Sire – Dam, by Dam Sire): 1 – War Front – Visions of Clarity (IRE) , by Sadler’s Wells ; 2 – Tapit – My Conquestadory , by Artie Schiller ; 3 -Munnings – Battling Brook , by Broken Vow ; 4 – City Zip – Rare Event , by A.P. Indy ; 5 – Into Mischief – Aspen Light , by Bernardini ; 6 – Into Mischief -Divine Presence , by A.P. Indy ; 7 – Stay Thirsty – What Will Be , by Anees ; 8 – General Quarters – Trip South , by Trippi ; 9 – Bodemeister – Pied a Terre, by City Zip ; 10 – Take Charge Indy – Awesome Surprise , by Awesome Again ; 11 – Union Rags – Saskawea , by Stormy Atlantic ; 12 – Scat Daddy -Imprecation , by First Defence ; 13 – Hat Trick (JPN) – Miss Smarty Pants , by Smarty Jones ;
Sire of Owendale standing at Spendthrift Farm
Sire of Market King standing at Spendthrift Farm
Sire of Laughing Fox standing at Lanes End
Equipment Changes: 2 – Bourbon War – Blinkers On;13 – Win Win Win – Blinkers On

1-War of Will

Maybe the unluckiest horse of the 2019 Kentucky Derby as he got absolutely smashed at the turn of the stretch by Maximum Security. Now his connections did not claim foul for that incident which to me establishes my position as to why Maximum Security should not have been disqualified. Assessing his chances in this Preakness my thought process is pretty simple. If he wasn’t 100 percent after what happened at the Kentucky Derby then he obviously would not be here. He does have to overcome another rail draw but this is not the Derby where that huge convergence shuts you off. He can break and be forwardly placed behind whatever speed decides to go. His trainer Mark Casse exudes confidence and he is training good in advance of this race. As for how I rate his chances he has a real good chance on his best. But is my pick to win?

2-Bourbon War

Did not quite make the cut to run in the Kentucky Derby and for the record I thought he could have made a big impact had he drawn in. Think back to his Fountain of Youth where he ran 2nd to Code of Honor who ran 2nd in the Kentucky Derby. Also he had absolutely no pace to chase in the Florida Derby but he was the only one making a late run behind Maximum Security who won the Kentucky Derby. The prevailing theme is that he has kept the best company of the horses this year. He is a stone closer on paper but he figures to have pace to chase this time. That said he will need a touch of racing luck considering the turns at Pimlico favor front runners. That said if they go crazy he should have a big say so in the outcome. I can tell you this though based on the advance wagering I am not the only one who gives this horse a big shot.

3-Warriors Charge

Probably should be on or near the lead and his last two starts have been absolutely brilliant. His connections are showing tremendous confidence by supplementing him in the Preakness for $150,000 dollars. As mentioned he should be near the front but this sure is asking a lot as far as a big class hike being this is his first foray into stakes company. He may be this good but I will let him beat me. Not an easy toss but he is out nevertheless.


When I watch his Derby back I really saw nothing that jumped out at me. He finished 5th but was moved up to fourth via disqualification. You can say he whipped Country House who won the Kentucky Derby but I won’t bite. Bob Baffert his trainer seeks his eighth Preakness and the last two times he sent a horse off losses were Point Given and Lookin at Lucky who both won the Preakness. Those two horses on paper are better than Improbable. As much as I was on Omaha Beach to win the Derby before he got scratched you would think Improbable is a must use. I am not sure yet where I stand as it relates to using him in my exotics.


The second entry for trainer Brad Cox has a big win in the Lexington in his last out but I have seen these types who score lifetime wins and subsequently bounce in their next out. Also figure Anothertwistoffate who ran second to this horse was compromised by a tough trip. I love how Brad Cox has quickly established himself as a fast rising trainer but something tells me that this guy just doesn’t measure up. Another who is not going to be in my exotics.

6-Market King

One of the rank outsiders in this field who just looks too slow for my liking. His trainer D. Wayne Lukas ran a strong 2nd with Bravazo last year but this guy has absolutely no chance to be anywhere amongst the main body of contenders. At the very most he is a brief speedster who will retreat quickly. One of the easier throw-outs.


Has been on a real roll winning his last 6 races with his most recent triumph in the prep for this race which was the Federico Tesio. The criticism is that he has not beaten much and is taking a step up in class. All of his wins though have been at Laurel Park so it remains to be seen how he takes to this course. A lot of people are feeling this horse as an alternative to Improbable. The back story for this horse is pretty cool considering he has a female trainer in Kelly Rubley who will attempt to become the first female trainer to win the Preakness. He should be near the lead and if he can handle the step up he sure has a good chance here. Sometimes its best to roll with the hot horse but will I do so?


As consistent as he has been there is a reason he sits at 30-1 on the morning line. Though he showed you a third to Game Winner in the Breeders Cup Juvenile and a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in which he beat 13 opponents, his speed figures are a cut below the main body of contenders here. That said he is not the worst flier for superfectas here but as for my exotics, I’ll pass on him.

9- Bodeexpress

Maidens should not compete in races of this magnitude. Though he backed up in the Derby he has kept good company and does attract John Velasquez for the ride. All that though does not give me one reason to consider him for the patented exacta box. Sadly some national pundits have him winning but as for me no thank you is what I say about this guy.


What makes me think that after 10 lifetime starts that I would hope for better than he has already run. I see nothing in his running lines that even remotely suggests that he is a player. I think he is a waste of space in this field and am not going to bother using him.

11-Laughing Fox

Another confirmed closer for this Preakness and he did win his most recent outing in the inaugural Oaklawn Invitational. This horse has not disgraced himself in his races and he may just grab a piece of this with a good effort. He will need a swift pace which is possible but he will need a good trip as well. I am on the fringes with this one as it relates to my exotics.


An intriguing new shooter for the Preakness and all of his wins have come over the synthetic surface. He did not disgrace himself in his 2 preps with runner up finishes in both the Sunland Derby and the Lexington Stakes. The only potential drawback is his running style as he is expected to break near the lead. His post will prove tough but his quality is unmistakable. Most will include him and some have him winning this race. I though have mixed signals about him. He potentially can be on my exotics but we will see.

13-Win Win Win-This was one of my four horses that i used in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. He obviously wanted no part of the quagmire at Churchill Downs. With the expected fast track for the Preakness plus his return home i am willing to forgive his effort in Kentucky. He is putting on blinkers for this test and that theoretically can help him. If he breaks a tad more alertly then he can really have a chance. There is nothing like home cooking and he should benefit from that.

My Selections
1-Bourbon War-After a lengthy look at this Preakness, this will be my choice to win. Pace should be there for him to close.

2-War of Will-I know what I saw in Louisiana and his Derby validated my belief. Is a major contender for me in here.

3-Alwaysmining-He is the red hot horse coming into the Preakness and is one that also belongs in my exotics.

4-Win Win Win-His post is going to be tough to overcome but he is another one who will benefit from a fast pace.

You see I do not have Improbable on my exacta box. Am I taking a chance? Of course but when you read my synopsis of the horses, you can see why.

Catch me on the Three Tailgaters at 11:45 a.m. with Ken Trahan and Ed Daniels on WGSO 990 AM New Orleans to talk about the Preakness.

One more thing before I go — my exacta box is not a bank breaker but it should pay handsomely when it hits on a beautiful day for racing at Pimlico. Until next time, as always, may your winners be plentiful and your wallets be fat.

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George Pepis

George Pepis

Horse Racing Analyst

George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.

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