Playing Armagnac as the best Preakness Longshot
A total of nine three-year-olds will contest the 147th running of the $1.5 million Preakness S. (G1) at Pimlico on Saturday. The second jewel of the Triple Crown looks to be a mostly formful race to me on paper as the top betting choices look formidable in the centerpiece of a massive day of racing.
Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up #8 Epicenter (6-5) looms as a huge threat for Steve Asmussen, and the race goes through the son of Not This Time. Wood Memorial S. (G2) second #5 Early Voting (7-2) has done little wrong in his three-race career for conditioner Chad Brown, and the speedy son of Gun Runner will be rolling along on the front end early on with Jose Ortiz up.
Kentucky Oaks (G1) starlet #4 Secret Oath (9-2) has been in impeccable form this campaign and owns a real chance of taking down the boys if the race sets up for her for conditioner D. Wayke Lukas. Fountain of Youth S. (G2) victor #1 Simplification (6-1) was finishing well when fourth in Louisville two weeks ago, and a rail draw with an expected ground-saving trip on Saturday will surely aid the high-quality Florida-bred.
But, if there is one contender in the cast that could surprise the top four and light up the tote board, it is #7 Armagnac (12-1). By Quality Road, the inconsistent, yet talented three-year-old has flashed big potential on more than one occasion and rates as a live longshot in the Preakness. The Kentucky-bred was outrun in both of his graded stakes tries to date, beaten by a combined 39 lengths, but he comes in off of a fine allowance romp in his first appearance without blinkers. I feel that the equipment change was a great move for him.
Armagnac has excellent early foot combined with a fine post draw outside of expected early leader Early Voting, which should allow the colt to track the pace and avoid trouble throughout. The bay has always been well thought of and a swift horse in the mornings, and I have a hunch that he is putting it all together at this stage of his development. And it’s also worth noting that California-based horses have conquered the Preakness on six occasions over the past 10 years.
The Tim Yakteen trainee has the breeding to stay the distance, hailing from the family of twice Classic-placed Strodes Creek, and he receives a big rider boost with Irad Ortiz Jr. taking the reins for the initial time, as well. He is a horse who could be peaking that possesses the speed, pedigree, and connections to be a dangerous commodity on Saturday. At an expected big price, Armagnac is the best longshot option in the Preakness.