How to bet against Epicenter in the Preakness Stakes
Eight sophomores will have the daunting task of trying to upend clear favorite #8 Epicenter (6-5) in the 147th running of the $1.5 million Preakness S. (G1) at Pimlico on Saturday. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the son of Not This Time has been a top-notch performer in 2022 and was a bit unlucky when runner-up in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 7.
Epicenter has proven to be capable of running from on the lead, or from off of the pace, and the Kentucky-bred has reportedly bounced out of his big run in Louisville in fine fashion in advance of his first run at Pimlico. The bay figures to receive a forwardly placed trip while within a few lengths of the early tempo from the start. Joel Rosario will guide the talented three-year-old who is a must-use in the cast.
My top selection is #5 Early Voting (7-2), who might have been my Kentucky Derby selection had he entered in the Run for the Roses. The Gun Runner colt is 2-for-3 lifetime with a neck setback suffered in the Wood Memorial S. (G2) in his latest venture. Bred in the Bluegrass State, the $200,000 yearling buy is fleet and has proven that he can handle a route of ground, as well.
Early Voting is still lightly raced with room for improvement, and he has been training in solid fashion leading up to his classic debut. The Klaravich color bearer is the pace of the race and could get very brave if left alone on the front end for too long on Saturday. Regular pilot Jose Ortiz will be in the silks.
The other major danger in the field, in my opinion, is Kentucky Oaks (G1) starlet #4 Secret Oath (9-2). Trained by living legend D. Wayne Lukas, the Arrogate lass has been dominant against her own gender this season, and she also made a huge run before crossing the wire in third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) while facing the boys two prior. The Briland Farm homebred might not receive an advantageous pace to rally into late, but she is all class and wouldn’t be a surprise to me.
One wildcard in the field is West Coast import #7 Armagnac (12-1). The son of Quality Road has not been consistent to this stage of his development, but his improvement with blinkers off in his allowance romp last time out is something that I am not taking for granted. The bay will be forwardly placed while picking up top gun Irad Ortiz Jr.