Preakness Stakes Odds

The 149th Preakness Stakes has a 7:01 p.m. ET post time on Saturday, May 18 as Race 13 in the program at Pimlico Race Course. Rain is in the forecast for the 1 3/16-mile run, which could certainly alter the handicap in a lot of ways if it comes to fruition. With a pretty strong chance of rain overnight and throughout race day, it is likely to be a muddy run for this class of 3-year-olds.

Mystik Dan is the favorite as he looks to keep the Triple Crown dreams alive following a surprising win in the Kentucky Derby. Post-draw favorite Muth was scratched due to a fever, leaving Mystik Dan the head of the class, but this is hardly an easy assignment.


Odds from DK Horse on May 18, 8:15 a.m. PT

1MugatuJ. EnglerJ. Bravo20-1
2Uncle HeavyR. Reid Jr.I. Ortiz Jr.7-1
3Catching FreedomB. CoxF. Prat3-1
5Mystik DanK. McPeekB. Hernandez Jr.3-1
6Seize the GreyD. LukasJ. Torres8-1
7Just SteelD. LukasJ. Rosario9-1
8Tuscan GoldC. BrownT. Gaffalione7-2
9ImaginationB. BaffertF. Dettori4-1

As mentioned, that scratch is Muth, so everybody moves up a gate but keeps the same number. It seems unlikely that Mystik Dan goes off at this kind of price, given the quick turnaround and the long odds he faced to win the Kentucky Derby. Tuscan Gold, Imagination, and Catching Freedom are all getting some love, while Just Steel seems to be a popular pick among players after a second to Muth in the Arkansas Derby. It seems they’re willing to overlook the 17th at Churchill Downs two weeks ago.

Notes on all eight Preakness Stakes horses:

1. Mugatu (20-1; Engler/Bravo): The son of Blofeld and Union Way is coming off of a solid fifth-place finish in a loaded Blue Grass Stakes field back on April 6. It was only the third dirt race out of 12 for Mugatu, whose lone win came on the synthetic track at Gulfstream. The background is full of turf and all-weather surface runs here and I can’t imagine a muddy track bodes well, even though that last race was promising in terms of the summer and some lighter fields. Toss

2. Uncle Heavy (7-1; Reid/Ortiz): Maybe the mud will help Uncle Heavy, given that his signature win came on a sloppy track at Aqueduct in the G3 Withers Stakes back in February. A fifth-place finish in the Wood Memorial tempered any hopes for the son of Social Inclusion and Expect Wonderful in a Triple Crown race, as many are throwing out this colt. That was a tough trip for a variety of reasons, including a horse knocking off the jockey. I don’t think he’s as much of a throwaway as others, but it’ll take a huge run to be competitive here. Toss

3. Catching Freedom (3-1; Cox/Prat): One of three Kentucky Derby runners, Catching Freedom was a pretty popular pick to hit the board at Churchill Downs and did for superfecta players. The bloodline is strong here with Constitution by way of Tapit as the sire and Catch My Drift by way of Pioneerofthenile. His run at Churchill was the top of his career per Equibase speed figures and the Louisiana Derby winner seems to be building towards a massive run here.

Cox has only had two entries in the Preakness in his long and illustrious career. The fact that he is turning Catching Freedom around in two weeks seems significant. Strong win contender

5. Mystik Dan (3-1; McPeek/Hernandez): It seems the vast majority of us missed something with Mystik Dan in the Kentucky Derby. He completed the Oaks/Derby Double for McPeek after Thorpedo Anna won the Lillies for the Fillies the day prior. I guess the question here is whether or not we feel like there’s a Sierra Leone in the field. If the Derby was even 20 feet longer, Mystik Dan finishes a very, very game second.

This is a really quick turn off a huge Derby run and the mud will force some extra effort for the son of Goldencents. Maybe the rain and mud won’t matter, as he won in those conditions in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn and had a big speed figure then. Do we (can we?) doubt him again? This is a much different price and there are fresher horses in play. Have to consider

6. Seize the Grey (8-1; Lukas/Torres): The first of two D. Wayne Lukas entries has first-time Preakness jock Jaime Torres in the mount here. It has been a heavy workload this year for the son of Arrogate and Smart Shopping, as this will be the fifth race of the year and the second in two weeks after winning the Pat Day Mile at Churchill on Derby Day. The question here is whether or not this horse has another gear. In the Blue Grass Stakes, which was dominated by Derby entries, Seize the Grey was seventh and never a threat. In one run in the mud, he finished third at just 5 ½ furlongs last August. Maybe underneath

7. Just Steel (9-1; Lukas/Asmussen): Just Steel couldn’t follow in his father’s hoofprints on Derby Day, as the son of Justify ran near the front early and finished 17th. Perhaps Keith Asmussen was just conserving energy after he realized the horse was outclassed. Joel Rosario draws the ride here after running Just Steel five times last year, including wins in a maiden and the Ed Brown Stakes. Those were both sprints, but Just Steel was second to Mystik Dan in the Southwest Stakes in the mud and mostly ran with Muth in the Arkansas Derby.

A lot of people like the price and potential here. The lack of consistency is a tough pill to swallow and Rosario has never won the Preakness, but has finished second four times. Attractive long shot

8. Tuscan Gold (7-2; Brown/Gaffalione): Chad Brown actually entered Tuscan Gold in the Peter Pan Stakes last week, but pulled him out and turned him to the Preakness instead. We only have three data points for the very well-bred 3-year-old, so it’s tough to know what to expect. He ran third at the Louisiana Derby to Catching Freedom and Honor Marie, scratching and clawing for enough distance to hit the board. Nearly two months later, it’s fair to wonder how he’ll do at the same 1 3/16-mile distance.

The connections are intriguing here, as Brown has won twice in the Preakness and the ownership groups have had pieces of several good runners in this race. As a horse likely to stalk the pace, his two-month layoff may be the difference when closing down the stretch. Win contender

9. Imagination (4-1; Baffert/Dettori): In the Preakness arms race, it sure looked like Bob Baffert was bringing a rocket launcher in Muth. Unfortunately, Muth is out, but Imagination has been a popular topic of discussion this week. In six starts, he’s won twice and finished second four times. This is an expensive horse with a terrific bloodline (son of Into Mischief and Magical Feeling) and the eight-time Preakness winner Baffert turns to Frankie Dettori for the ride. Baffert is suspended at Churchill Downs, so he didn’t have any Kentucky Derby entries and that makes this race very personal. 

Dettori and Imagination won the four-horse San Felipe Stakes in March and came in second in the Santa Anita Derby at a short price. The outside post might be good here, as it will be a longer trip, but Imagination has struggled at the start and may get a free lane if Dettori is willing to spend a little more energy early. Strong win contender

Preakness Stakes 2024 Picks

Mystik Dan may very well win and keep the Triple Crown dream alive. The 3-1 price is better than the 8-5 we’ve seen throughout the week, but this is such a quick turnaround after a really big, very unexpected run. This field is clearly a few notches down, but there are some good speed horses that are rested like Imagination and Tuscan Gold.

Catching Freedom is coming back, but Cox thinks he has something here at 1 3/16 miles with the Derby runner. I think he does, too.

Imagination is next for me. I’ll put Mystik Dan in some exotics just to avoid missing out completely if he does win. The same with Just Steel, since there are a lot of smart people interested in Justify’s son.

Given a $50 bankroll for the race, here’s what I’m looking at:

$10 Win ($20)

3 Catching Freedom

9 Imagination

$3 Trifecta Key ($24)

3, 5/7/9 ($12)

9, 3/5/7 ($12)

$2 Trifecta Key ($6)

5, 3/7/9 ($6)

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