Preakness: Which new shooters can beat Mage?

May 20th, 2023

If Kentucky Derby (G1) winner #3 Mage (8-5) is going to add Saturday’s $1.25 million Preakness (G1) at Pimlico to his roster of victories, he’ll have to defeat six new shooters who skipped the Derby.

Following the scratch of #8 First Mission (5-2), the biggest threat to Mage is arguably #1 National Treasure (4-1). He exits a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), but was only beaten 2 3/4 lengths after missing a scheduled prep run due to a foot issue.

There's hardly any pace on paper in the Preakness, so National Treasure—who placed in multiple Grade 1 races as a juvenile—figures to be dangerous while adding blinkers for seven-time Preakness-winning trainer Bob Baffert. National Treasure enters off fast workouts and wired his debut when wearing blinkers, so the stage is set for National Treasure to secure an easy lead and take this field a long way on the front end. Maybe even all the way.

#7 Blazing Sevens (6-1) is another logical contender. Winner of the Champagne (G1) as a juvenile, Blazing Sevens recently finished third in a fast renewal of the Blue Grass (G1). Trainer Chad Brown has twice won the Preakness with Road to the Kentucky Derby alumni who skipped the Derby, and Blazing Sevens is eligible to move forward in his third run of the season. A top-three finish is well within reach.

We also have to mention #6 Perform (15-1) as a live longshot. Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, Perform has gone 2-for-2 since stretching out around two turns, most recently overcoming trouble to rally and win the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio S. at Laurel Park. A spot in the superfecta isn’t out of the question for this bay colt, who has shown enough speed in the past to suggest he can work out a favorable midpack trip.

#5 Red Route One (10-1) is a deep closer who recently rallied to victory in the 1 1/8-mile Bath House Row S. at Oaklawn Park. Red Route One would benefit from a hot pace that seems unlikely to develop, but he’s usually involved for a top-four finish and can potentially gain ground late to land a spot in the superfecta.

#2 Chase the Chaos (50-1) won the El Camino Real Derby over the Tapeta track at Golden Gate Fields during the winter, but two subsequent defeats (including one on dirt) leave him as a longshot at Pimlico. The local Maryland-bred runner #4 Coffeewithchris (20-1) will likewise be a big price after weakening from a pacesetting position to finish fifth in the Federico Tesio.

We would rank the top four Preakness new shooters as follows. This ranking reflects their chances of upsetting Mage, and not necessarily their chances of finishing on the board:

1. National Treasure
2. Blazing Sevens
3. Perform
4. Red Route One