The Paradox of the 2022 Preakness Stakes
As we gear up for the 2022 Preakness Stakes, we find ourselves facing a perplexing wagering quandary that pits two contrasting trends against each other. In the 21st century, the favorite has emerged victorious 10 times at the Pimlico Race Course, making chalk the friend of bettors. The influence of horses coming in from Churchill Downs has also been noticeable, with several Kentucky Derby runners finding success in the Preakness. However, recent winners like Rombauer in 2021 and Swiss Skydiver in 2020 have defied the odds as underdogs, challenging these prevailing trends.
A Clash of Trends: Chalk vs. Recent Upsets
Over time, certain trends have become deeply ingrained in horse racing. This century, the Preakness has favored favorites, with 10 winners emerging from the top of the betting odds. The longest shot to win this race in the 21st century was Oxbow in 2013, with odds of 15.40/1. Additionally, seven horses between 2010 and 2019 triumphed in the Preakness as favorites.
Furthermore, the correlation between success at Churchill Downs and the Preakness cannot be ignored. Horses like Epicenter, Simpification, and Happy Jack, who performed well at the Kentucky Derby, can be considered strong contenders for the second jewel of the Triple Crown. However, only four horses in this century have taken advantage of the weekend break between the Derby and the Preakness to emerge victorious.
Recent Upsets and the Rise of Non-Derby Horses
Despite the prevalence of the chalk and the importance of the Kentucky Derby, recent Preakness winners like Rombauer and Swiss Skydiver have defied expectations. In 2021, Rombauer triumphed at 11/1 odds, defeating the 5/2 favorite, Medina Spirit. Swiss Skydiver’s victory in 2020 was equally remarkable, as she bested the heavily-favored Authentic, who entered the race as a 3/5 favorite.
Cloud Computing’s triumph in 2017 serves as a reminder that skipping the Derby/Oaks week can be a winning strategy. Rombauer’s success last year showcased the potential of new shooters like Early Voting, who enters this year’s race as one of the most promising contenders.
Diverse Winning Strategies in the Preakness Stakes
A Mix of Styles in the Winner’s Circle
The Preakness Stakes has seen a mix of winning styles throughout its history. Pace-setters like American Pharoah, Justify, Oxbow, Big Brown, Smarty Jones, and Funny Cide have all claimed victory. Pressers such as California Chrome and Swiss Skydiver, as well as stalkers like Rombauer, War of Will, Cloud Computing, and I’ll Have Another, have also found success in the race. However, closers like Exaggerator have had limited triumphs, with only one closer winning in the last 11 years.
Favorable Showing for Preakness Closers
While closers may struggle to secure the win, they often perform strongly and frequently hit the board. Recent editions of the Preakness have seen closers like Jesus’ Team, Everfast, Tenfold, and Senior Investment finish third or better, providing bettors with profitable opportunities. Tale of Verve’s second-place finish behind American Pharoah in 2015 further emphasizes the viability of closers in the Preakness.
Breaking Down the 2022 Preakness Stakes Field
Fenwick (Post 3-50/1)
Trained by Kevin McKathan, Fenwick enters the race with modest credentials. With a glacial 54 Equibase Speed Figure in his last outing and a career that includes only a maiden special weight win at Tampa Bay Downs, Fenwick finds himself as a longshot in this competitive field.
Armagnac (Post 7-12/1)
Trainer Tim Yakteen’s decision to include Armagnac in the Preakness field comes after a recent victory in a 1 1/16-mile Santa Anita allowance-optional claimer. However, Armagnac’s past performances, including a distant fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, raise doubts about his ability to contend in this race.
Happy Jack (Post 6-30/1)
Happy Jack, one of the three Kentucky Derby starters returning for the Preakness, faces an uphill battle. With a lackluster performance in the Derby, finishing 14th by a wide margin, Happy Jack’s chances of a Preakness victory seem slim.
Skippylongstocking (Post 9-20/1)
As the most experienced runner in the field, Skippylongstocking brings valuable race experience to the Preakness. However, with speed figures that indicate an allowance-grade horse and limited success in stakes races, it’s unlikely that Skippylongstocking will be a contender for the win.
Early Voting (Post 5-7/2)
Early Voting, a horse that didn’t participate in the Derby or the Oaks, provides a compelling case for victory in the Preakness. Trained by Chad Brown, this son of Gun Runner boasts an impressive resume, including a gate-to-wire win in the Grade 3 Withers. With top speed figures and a stalking running style, Early Voting poses a significant threat to the field.
Creative Minister (Post 2-10/1)
Considered the biggest wild card in the Preakness field, Creative Minister has generated excitement with his recent performances. Supplementing him into the race cost his owners a substantial sum, reflecting their belief in his potential. With a limited body of work but promising speed figures, Creative Minister could surprise everyone and secure a victory.
Simplification (Post 1-6/1)
Simplification, an under-the-radar contender, has consistently displayed his capabilities on the track. With a strong fourth-place finish in the Derby and impressive performances in Florida, Simplification has proven himself to be a genuine threat. Although drawn on the rail, his stalking style and talented jockey, John Velazquez, make him a solid choice for exotic bets.
Epicenter (Post 8-6/5)
Epicenter is a standout favorite for the Preakness, coming off an impressive victory in the Derby. With wins over other notable contenders in previous races, Epicenter possesses both speed and versatility. Steve Asmussen, a renowned trainer, has positioned Epicenter for a possible Triple Crown bid with a victory in the Preakness.
The Pick: Secret Oath (Post 4-9/2)
Opting for a more unconventional choice, Secret Oath emerges as a strong contender. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Secret Oath has shown immense potential, particularly in her victory at the Kentucky Oaks against a formidable field. Despite concerns about her recent race history, Lukas expresses confidence in her training. Secret Oath’s stalking running style and her status as the only Grade 1 winner in the field make her a compelling pick. With a five-pound weight break and strong performances to her name, Secret Oath has the potential to join the prestigious list of Preakness-winning fillies.
The 2022 Preakness Stakes presents an intriguing clash between established trends and recent upsets. As bettors analyze the field and strategize their wagers, the race offers ample opportunities for both favorites and underdogs. The Preakness has a rich history of surprises, and this year’s edition promises to deliver another thrilling chapter in the Triple Crown saga.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can a longshot win the Preakness?
While the favorites have enjoyed success in the Preakness, recent years have witnessed several longshot victories, proving that anything is possible in horse racing.
2. Are horses coming from the Kentucky Derby at an advantage?
Horses that perform well in the Kentucky Derby often bring valuable experience and proven talent to the Preakness. However, it is not uncommon for non-Derby horses to emerge victorious in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
3. What running style is most effective in the Preakness?
The Preakness has seen success for horses employing various running styles, including pace-setters, pressers, and stalkers. Closers, on the other hand, have had limited triumphs in recent years.
4. Can fillies win the Preakness?
Yes, fillies have shown their mettle in the Preakness, with Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Swiss Skydiver in 2020 both securing victories. Secret Oath aims to add her name to this prestigious list.
5. Are recent upsets likely to continue in the 2022 Preakness Stakes?
While recent upsets have added an element of unpredictability to the Preakness, favorites and established trends should not be discounted. Ultimately, the race will reveal how these conflicting factors play out on race day.