If you read Past the Wire, my column here on AmWager, or follow me on social media, then there is a good chance you know I like improving horses I think will move forward, especially in big stakes races. You probably also know I don’t lock into horses or rules and the Preakness on Saturday is an example. I take each race and scenario as it comes. I find myself liking a horse I think has a good chance to bounce or regress in the Preakness, but after all things considered, that is where I landed. It is a pretty rare scenario for me, but that’s how I see things on Saturday.

When I look at the Preakness, I see a race with a lot of pace factors. I have to think the pace will be hot, contested, or both. 

Obviously, Authentic is going to go towards the front, and John Velasquez will force anyone who wants the lead over him to have to really run to get it. There is a nice run into that first turn, and if Authentic shows the way, I think the riders of Art Collector, and Swiss Skydiver are going to want to stay close to him. Thousand Words, Jesus’ Team, and NY Traffic also like to push or prompt things up top, and in my opinion, that assures a race with pace to run at for the closers. Pneumatic can go either way. If he goes or presses, it helps my case. If he comes from off of it, I think that makes him a dangerous player. 

If anyone outruns Authentic for the early lead, that would also pretty much guarantee a lively pace or again at the least a contested one. Everyone has the mindset Pimlico is a speed track, which historically isn’t true, but the rep is the rep. I think that will result in some early and maybe even premature moves. The race is ripe for an off-the-pace winner in my opinion. 

Mr. Big News ran good in the Derby, and I think he is the best closer in there on Saturday. I land here, and my only reservation is he ran a 0 on Thoro-Graph last out, and it was a new top for him by a few points. He can regress for sure, and that is a concern. I think he can also repeat, however. I don’t see him going forward, and I rarely land on a horse I don’t feel will go forward, but this is a rare exception. I think if Mr. Big News repeats or comes close to a repeat then he can win, given how I see the race unfolding. 

The key with regression or bounce is, do you think the horse can bounce and win. In this case, I do, as long as it is slight. I lean to a repeat. 

There are other closers, and I considered each one of them. Excession is also coming off a top and a lay-off. I don’t think he is good enough in this spot. 

Max Player is logical in his second start for Asmussen. He likes to come from way off the pace, and I expect he will be running at the end. I just think Mr. Big News has a better late move. 

The two I will be most aware of throughout the running are Thousand Words and Pneumatic. Both of these runners are capable of winning after sitting an off the pace trip. Should either Florent Geroux or Joe Bravo employ that strategy, things will be tougher for Mr. Big News, but I am hoping they move earlier, and Gabriel Saez makes the last move count. 

Brett Calhoun is an excellent horseman and trainer. He knows his way around a good horse and a big race. Gabriel Saez is underrated. He is an excellent rider. 

The Preakness anchors a Pick 4 and 5 on a stake filled card. I’ll be singling Mr. Big News, and like the 8 or 9 -1 price, I think he will go. It might even be higher. That kind of price to close a Pick 4 or 5 on a big pool day can lead to a nice payday. It is all about putting yourself in that position enough times to make it count. I like the chances on Saturday

Find more from Jon Stettin at Past the Wire