2022 Preakness Preview: Epicenter or the field?

There will be no triple crown chase this year with Derby-winner Rich Strike opting to train for the Belmont rather than the Preakness, but we should still get an intriguing race on Saturday! The 2022 Preakness Stakes will be Race 13 on May 21st at Pimlico. Post time is set for 6:01 PM CT. This Grade I race is one and 3/16 miles and has a purse of $1,500,000. The race is for three-year olds and is the second race in the triple crown. There are nine horses in the field this year. Last year’s winner was Rombauer.

Just three (Epicenter, Simplification and Happy Jack) of this year’s nine runners ran in the Kentucky Derby and one more ran in the Kentucky Oaks (Secret Oath). Eight of the ten past Preakness winners had raced in either the Derby or Oaks. The two who didn’t were Rombauer last year and Cloud Computing in 2017.

Let’s take a look at the rankings for everyone in this year’s field.

Epicenter is the best horse and at 6/5 or even money, he’s my bet! The crazy fast pace of the Derby came back to hurt him at the finish as he ended up second when Rich Strike came flying at the end. The pace should be much easier to control here with only a nine horse field (and no Zandon or Rich Strike to deal with).

Simplification will be a speed horse who looks like he’s reliable. He finished 4th in the Derby and although he’s not better than Epicenter, he should have a very high chance to hit the board. He’s finished in the top four of every race with the exception of his debut where he finished 5th.

Secret Oath is the filly who looks to go against the Boys here. She won the Kentucky Oaks in her last. She actually has faced the Boys before back in the Arkansas Derby: where she finished 3rd to Cyberknife and Barber Road. There’s a lot of speed in this race, so she could get a good setup from her stalking position to strike late.

Early Voting finished second in the Wood Memorial in his last and wired the field to win the Withers back in early February. He’ll be a pace setter here, but for how long will he lead the field?

Creative Minister would be the dark horse we don’t know enough about. He began his career just two months ago and has just three career races now. He raced on the undercard of the Kentucky Derby and ran a 108 speed figure (highest of anyone in this field). His two previous races had been 84 and 88. He has the same trainer as 2020 Preakness Winner Swiss Skydiver, Kenny McPeek. He’s improved each time out so far and could be a live longshot, but there’s big step up in class.

Skippylongstocking finished 3rd in the Wood Memorial behind Early Voting and Mo Donegal. He won’t be bothered by the 9 post as he’ll be the closer of this group looking to pick up the pieces if a faster pace causes this race to fall apart.

Armagnac is another speed horse in this field, but he’s lost to Happy Jack twice already. At a 12-1 morning line, he seems overvalued.

Happy Jack finished 14th in the Derby and was never a factor. He had a few third place finishes in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby, but after running 98 speed figure in his debut, he hasn’t even reached above a 86 since that.

Fenwick rounds out the field. He’ll race at his sixth different track for his third different trainer on Saturday. He broke his maiden two starts back at Tampa Bay Downs with a 91 speed figure. He followed that up with a distant last place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes in his last. 50-1 morning line, not really sure why he’s in the Preakness.

Below we take a look at each horse’s last three speed figures.

I’ve ran the Preakness 1,000 times in simulations. Below are the results of those races.

Quick Wrap Up and Betting Strategies

Most Likely to Win: 8 Epicenter

My Bet: 8 to Win, 8/5 Exacta Box, 5/8-1,4,5,8-1,2,4,9 Trifecta

Superfecta: 8-5-4-1

Long Shot: 2 Creative Minister 10-1

Epicenter is definitely the best horse here. The only way I can see him losing is if the other speed horses push him to hard and tire him out, setting up a path for Secret Oath. Creative Minister is a wildcard and a longshot, but it’s impossible to know how he’ll do. With a shorter field, I’m not going to try to beat Epicenter in this one.

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