The restructured 2020 Triple Crown concludes on Saturday with the $1 million Preakness (G1) at Pimlico, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland. The historic 1 3/16-mile Preakness has attracted 11 accomplished 3-year-olds to the fray, including Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Authentic.

Top Preakness Picks

  • #9 Authentic
  • #3 Art Collector
  • #8 Max Player
  • #10 Pneumatic
  • #4 Swiss Skydiver

Preakness Stakes Expert Bet

  • $4 trifecta: 3,9 with 3,9 with 4,8,10 ($24)
  • $3 trifecta: 3,9 with 8 with 3,9 ($6)

The Preakness contenders

#1 Excession hasn’t run since finishing second in the Mar. 14 Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park, so he’ll enter the Preakness off a 6 1/2-month layoff. The extended break is a big question mark, but so too is the fact Excession enjoyed a perfect setup in the Rebel, rallying into fast fractions over a sloppy track. Three of his best efforts have come over wet tracks, so the weather forecast could be key to Excession’s chances.

#2 Mr. Big News surprised bettors when rallying to finish third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), beaten just 3 1/4 lengths at odds of 46-1. This was a big step forward compared to Mr. Big News’ sixth-place effort in the Blue Grass (G2), which raises the question: can he repeat the performance? A fast pace would benefit this stoutly-bred son of Giant’s Causeway.

#3 Art Collector is undefeated in four starts this season, including easy triumphs in the Blue Grass (G2) and Ellis Park Derby. He’s beaten quality competition while posting a trio of triple-digit Brisnet Speed ratings, but drawing inside all the other pace players could be tricky for this typically speedy colt. On the bright side, Art Collector has posted three sharp workouts since missing the Kentucky Derby with a minor hoof issue, so fitness shouldn’t be a concern. He looms as the main threat to Authentic.

#4 Swiss Skydiver finished second behind Art Collector in the Blue Grass, but the four-time graded stakes winner has since fired off two big efforts against fillies, romping in the Alabama (G1) and recording a runner-up effort in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). She’s been on the go almost non-stop since her debut last November, but so far she’s avoided burnout, and her tactical speed and tractability form a dangerous combination. If she brings her A-game to Pimlico, a superfecta finish is within reach.

#5 Thousand Words was a late scratch from the Kentucky Derby after acting up in the paddock, but this $1 million yearling purchase has bounced back with a pair of workouts at Churchill Downs, suggesting he’s fit and ready to roll for the Preakness. A wire-to-wire winner of the Aug. 1 Shared Belief S. at Del Mar, Thousand Words will add blinkers for the Preakness, making him a tough colt to read. The Preakness will mark a significant class test for the son of Pioneerof the Nile, who has yet to contest a Grade 1 race.

#6 Jesus’ Team has finished on the board in the Haskell (G1), Pegasus S., and Jim Dandy (G2), but winning at the stakes level has proven elusive for this former claimer. He’s got the tactical speed to work out a clean trip from post 6, but finished behind four of his Preakness rivals over the course of the summer, suggesting Jesus’ Team needs improvement to vie for a spot on the board.

#7 Ny Traffic came within a nose of upsetting Authentic in the Haskell, but subsequently faltered to finish 13 3/4 lengths behind his rival in the Kentucky Derby. Was his no-show at Churchill Downs a fluke, or did Ny Traffic regress after four tough efforts against graded stakes company between February and July?  This speedy gray colt will be a pace player at Pimlico, but he’ll need a big turnaround to fight for top honors.

#8 Max Player has competed with aplomb against top company this season, rallying to finish third in the Belmont Stakes (G1), third in the Travers (G1), and fifth in the Kentucky Derby. A one-run deep closer, Max Player has fired off three workouts since Derby Day (including a bullet 5 furlongs in 1:00 1/5) and looms a major threat to crash the Preakness trifecta. If the pace is hot and a meltdown ensues, the son of Honor Code might even be capable of winning.

#9 Authentic wasn’t expected to win the Kentucky Derby, but after carving out a quick pace, the son of Into Mischief gamely turned back heavy favorite Tiz the Law to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Previously a wire-to-wire winner of the Haskell, Authentic is a pure front-runner drawn perfectly to enjoy a clean trip at Pimlico, though this time around he’ll have a target on his back. He’s certainly the horse to beat—trainer Bob Baffert has never lost the Preakness with a Kentucky Derby winner, and Authentic has posted two bullet workouts since the Derby. But another easy lead might not be forthcoming in the Preakness.

#10 Pneumatic could have run in the Kentucky Derby after rolling to a confident victory in the Aug. 15 Pegasus S. at Monmouth, but instead he’s been freshened for the Preakness. The fact this race has been Pneumatic’s target all along is appealing, and as a son of Uncle Mo out of a Tapit mare, he’s bred to improve with maturity. Previously fourth in the Belmont Stakes, Pneumatic is a candidate to crack the trifecta for two-time Preakness-winning trainer Steve Asmussen.

#11 Liveyourbeastlife has shown improvement since stretching out around two turns, rallying to win a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Saratoga before battling to a runner-up effort in the Jim Dandy. Liveyourbeastlife’s affinity for route racing is easy to understand since he’s a son of Ghostzapper out of a Kris S. mare, but with a career-best 95 Brisnet Speed rating, he ranks among the slower Preakness contenders on paper. A contested pace would help his chances.