Analyzing Early Voting, Secret Oath and other Preakness 'New Shooters'

May 18th, 2022

With 2022 Kentucky Derby surprise winner Rich Strike withdrawn from consideration for the Preakness S. (G1), Derby runner-up Epicenter has been named the morning line favorite in the 1 3/16-mile race at Pimlico.

Only Simplification, the fourth-place finisher in the Run or the Roses, and also-ran Happy Jack will re-oppose Steve Asmussen’s Louisiana Derby (G2) champ. Comprising the rest of the nine-horse field is a group of “new shooters,” or newcomers, who skipped the first leg of the Triple Crown but are plenty dangerous.

Below we analyze the six Preakness new shooters in the field and examine their chances of earning the blanket of Black-Eyed Susans on Saturday, May 21.

Armagnac (12-1)

Owner: SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables, et al.
Trainer: Tim Yakteen
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Post position: 7

Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Taiba and second-place finisher Messier earned a spot in the Kentucky Derby for trainer Tim Yakteen but will not race in the Preakness. Instead, stablemate Armagnac, who placed fourth in the Grade 1 Derby prep race, will get the start in Baltimore.

Owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables, et al., Armagnac is by Quality Road, out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare. Jockey Irad Ortiz will pick up the mount after finishing fifth aboard Mo Donegal in the Derby.

The three-year-old bay won a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claiming race by 4 1/4 lengths last out, on May 8, and has just one other win (against maiden special weight company) in five career starts, all at Santa Anita. In his other graded stakes appearance, the San Felipe S. (G2), he came home sixth in a field of seven.

Creative Minister (10-1)

Owner: Fern Circle Stables and Back Racing LLC
Trainer: Kenneth McPeek
Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.
Post position: 2

Making a move up in class for trainer Kenny McPeek, Creative Minister most recently won an optional claimer on the Derby undercard at Churchill Downs in his most recent start, in which the gray colt clocked a 101 Brisnet Speed figure, with a 102 Late Pace rating.

A grandson of Giant’s Causeway and out of a Tapit mare, Creative Minister owns a 3 2-1-0 lifetime record and will keep regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr.

McPeek has one Preakness win to his name with filly Swiss Skydiver in 2020.

Early Voting (7-2)

Owner: Klaravich Stables
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Post position: 5

Despite earning enough points to enter the 2022 Kentucky Derby field, trainer Chad Brown removed Early Voting from Derby consideration, with his eye on a Preakness win.

Owned by Klaravich Stables, the Gun Runner colt last posted a 111 BRIS figure in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, which he lost by a neck to Mo Donegal. In his other two career starts, he won February’s Withers S. (G3) gate-to-wire by 4 1/2 lengths at Aqueduct and a maiden special weight at the same track in his debut.

Jockey Jose Ortiz retains the mount for Brown’s Preakness starter in the 2022 field. Brown and Klaravich Stables won the Preakness in 2017 with “new shooter” Cloud Computing.

Fenwick (50-1)

Owner: Villa Rosa Farm and Harlo Stable
Trainer: Kevin McKathan
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Post position: 3

A late entrant on Monday morning, Fenwick was considered for the $100,000 Sir Barton S. on the Preakness undercard before trainer Kevin McKathan chose to enter Saturday’s marquee race.

A son of Curlin, out of a Malibu Moon mare, the chestnut has one win — at one mile 40 yards against maiden special weight company at Tampa Bay Downs — in six career starts. The chestnut finished last in a 11-horse field last out in the Blue Grass S. (G1) at Keeneland while guided by rider Paco Lopez.

Florent Geroux will jump in the irons for the Preakness.

Secret Oath (9-2)

Owner: Briland Farm
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Luis Saez
Post position: 4

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas got his fifth Kentucky Oaks (G1) win and first since 1990 with Secret Oath on the first Friday in May.

The daughter of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Arrogate, Secret Oath beat morning line favorite Nest by two lengths in the 1 1/8-mile race at Churchill Downs on May 6 in her follow-up to the Arkansas Derby (G1), where she placed third against the boys despite a troubled trip.

The filly’s 103 BRIS figure in the Oaks is the third-best last race speed rating among the field. For comparison, Epicenter posted a 101 BRIS figure last out at Churchill but stretched 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby. He clocked the same rating two back at 1 3/16 miles in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.

Jockey Luis Saez will stay in the stirrups after guiding Secret Oath to an Oaks win. Lukas has won the Preakness six times: Codex (1980), Tank's Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995), Charismatic (1999), Oxbow (2013).

Skippylongstocking (20-1)

Owner: Daniel Alonso
Trainer: Saffie Joseph
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Post position: 9

Making his 10th career start for trainer Saffie Joseph, Skippylongstocking last placed third to Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial with a 107 BRIS figure and 111 Late Pace rating.

The son of Preakness winner Exaggerator won an optional claimer two back at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream but failed to finish in the money in his two other starts in 2022.

Owned by Daniel Alonso, the bay posted a sharp 59-second, five-furlong workout at Pimlico on May 13 and has the late speed to hit the board in the Preakness.