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Preakness Stakes 2022: Predictions, Picks, Contenders and Odds

147th Preakness Stakes, May 15, 2022 at Pimlico Race Course (Baltimore, Md.)

The 147th running of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, will happen on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore

We will get to the 2022 Preakness Stakes and my bets for that, but can we talk about that Kentucky Derby first? Like a lot of people, all I can say is "Wow!" Absolutely perfect run by Rich Strike... who did just that.

I also got a ton of ribbing from folks because I didn't say anything about him in my Derby preview. But at the time of submission, he was still an alternate and wasn't even supposed to race! Furthermore, as we know it was one of the biggest upsets in Triple Crown History. And to my critics, I will point out that my 1-2-3 finished 2-3-4 right behind Rich Strike, so the thought process was right.

Related: Kentucky Derby Past Winners List

Unfortunately, Rich Strike will not be running in the Preakness. It is a much smaller field, so let's go through each horse to arrive at our bets.

2022 Preakness Stakes Preview

Simplification (6-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Owners: Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric

Career record: 8 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Commentary: One thing I really like about Simplification is that in the Kentucky Derby he earned a career-best 101 Equibase Speed Figure and it was probably his best race ever. And he did just fine in Triple Crown Prep races as well. He finished second in the Holy Bull Stakes, first in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes, and third in the Curlin Florida Derby. As I mentioned in my Derby preview, his Florida Derby run was sneaky good as he was caught up in a pace duel, which was a departure from his usual stalking style, and still fought hard in the stretch even after he was passed.

He won't be ridden by Jose Ortiz this time, but don't cry for Simplification. In Ortiz's place will be Hall of Fame member and multiple Eclipse-Award winner John Velazquez. I don't like Simplification to win, but he will be an integral part of my exactas and trifectas.

Creative Minister (10-1)

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.
Trainer: Ken McPeek
Owners: Fern Circle Stables, Back Racing and Magdalena Racing

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds 

Commentary: Two reasons to like this horse. One is that in his limited racing career, he has a very strong record (see above). Two, McPeek won the Preakness two years ago in the crazy, jumbled-up COVID season with Swiss Skydiver who beat Derby winner Authentic.

But I just don't see him in the same tier as some of my preferred horses nor does he present the value of some of the longer shots. Might be worth adding at the bottom of a Superfecta bet, but Creative Minister is not inspiring me.

3. Fenwick (50-1)

Jockey: Florent Geroux
Trainer: Kevin McKathan
Owners: Villa Rosa Farm and Harlo Stable

Career record: 6 starts – 1 first – 1 second – 0 thirds

Commentary: Fenwick is the son of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin, so the pedigree is there. The extremely proven Florent Geroux will try to jump out to an early lead with Fenwick, as stalking has fared poorly. If he doesn't grab the early lead, you can rip your tickets up before they even reach the 3/4 pole.

Even if he does grab the early lead, I think he'll be caught by at least one or two horses as his Equibase speed figure is only 91. He's a long shot for a reason.

4. Secret Oath (9-2)

Jockey: Luis Saez
Trainer: D Wayne Lukas
Owner: Briland Farm 

Career record: 8 starts – 5 wins – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Commentary: Secret Oath has the chance to become the seventh filly to win the Preakness. It would also be D. Wayne Lukas' seventh Preakness win as well. Lukas has done very well at Pimlico, but hasn't won here since 2013 with Oxbow. But a number of folks like her.

For one, she won the Kentucky Oaks, beating morning favorite Nest by two lengths. While the Kentucky Oaks is a filly-only race, she's also held her own against the boys. Despite most believing it was not her finest effort, she still finished third in the Arkansas Derby. The tighter turns of Pimlico are also a nice fit for her and her running style.

I personally want to see how much line movement there is. At 9-2 I'll buy a share and if she goes up to 6-1, I really like her. But I fear she is going to move closer to 7-2, and I don't like the value there.

5. Early Voting (7-2)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Trainer: Chad Brown
Owner: Klaravich Stables

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Commentary: The "purists" who believe you should not be able to bypass one Triple Crown Race and race in another are going to hate Early Voting. He bypassed the Kentucky Derby after racing in the Wood Memorial Stakes on April 2. He set the pace and nearly held on for a third consecutive win to start his career. Early Voting was eventually nipped out by Mo Donegal, who rallied from last and defeated him by a neck (To refresh your memory, Mo Donegal ran a late-closing fifth in the Kentucky Derby).

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Don't be surprised if Early Voting follows in the path of Klaravich Stables’ and Brown’s 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing, who also ran in the Wood Memorial and skipped the Kentucky Derby.

6. Happy Jack (30-1)

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
Trainer: Doug O'Neill
Owners: Calumet Farm

Career record: 5 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Commentary: Happy Jack joins Epicenter and Simplification as the only three horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby who also will compete in the Preakness. However, unlike the other two, Happy Jack was a non-factor at Churchill Downs. I don't think he will be a factor here either. However, there are some Preakness credentials that could make me very wrong.

O’Neill won the Preakness with the first of his two Kentucky Derby winners, I’ll Have Another in 2012; his 2016 Derby champ Nyquist finished third at the Preakness. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione also has a Preakness win. He won in 2019 riding War of Will, his only starter to date. Meanwhile, Calumet Farm has won a record eight editions of the Preakness.

So there's some history here, but I don't see it being enough for the present.

7. Armagnac (12-1)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Trainer: Tim Yakteen
Owners: SF Racing and more than half a dozen others I'm not bothering to list

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Commentary: Armagnac is coming off his career-best race where he controlled the pace in a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claimer and won by 4 ¼ lengths at Santa Anita Park on May 8. Prior to that, he had disappointed in two stakes tries against the best 3-year-olds in California, finishing sixth by 27 ¼ lengths in the San Felipe Stakes and then fourth by 12 ½ lengths in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby.

He'll be facing some of the best horses in the country on Saturday let alone those in California. This reminds me of a regional champion who goes to National competitions and gets beat badly.

8. Epicenter (6-5)

Jockey: Joel Rosario
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds 

Career record: 7 starts – 4 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Commentary: The Preakness is a race squarely in this colt’s wheelhouse as it’s the exact same length as the 1 3/16-mile Twinspires.com Louisana Derby which he won by 2 ½ lengths. Furthermore, it’s contested on a track at Pimlico that favors speed.

The big question is did his valiant Derby effort leave him too winded to recover during the two-week gap between races. Joel Rosario should easily have his mount no worse than third in the early going and in a perfect position to make the same far-turn move that he did in the Derby.

9. Skippylongstocking (20-1)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.
Owner: Daniel Alonso 

Career record: 9 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Commentary: Here is my favorite longshot/value bet for this race. First off, great name! Picking by name is one of the most fun ways to pick a horse and I can still remember fondly a number of the names of longshots that have come through for me over the years.

I love that he is an experienced racing horse, far outpacing the field with nine starts. His career got off to a rough start, but he’s recently found some form, including a third-place finish at the Wood Memorial. He failed to threaten winner Mo Donegal and runner-up Early Voting, yet grinded down the stretch to finish 1 ½ lengths ahead of the fourth-place finisher.

The pedigree is there, as this son of 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator. And like Early Voting, he hasn't raced since April and comes in well-rested.  Jockey Junior Alvarado, who rode him in his last three starts, will again be aboard him in the Preakness. I see this horse messing up a lot of chalky trifectas.

2022 Preakness Stakes Bets

I've told you a little bit about each of the horses, but let's talk about making a little green.

My favorite bet right now is a box trifecta with Secret Oath and Epicenter with SkippyLongstocking and Early Voting. We are essentially betting on one of four combinations to hit. Early Voting or SkippyLongstocking to show with Secret Oath and Epicenter to win and place or place and win.

I also really like Simplification to either place or show, so I will be making that fairly conservative bet. Just be aware that if Simplification goes off at 6 to 1, a $2 bet on each of those is likely to pay in the area of $10 combined... if Simplification can finish in the money.

I will also bet a rather chalky $2 box superfecta of Secret Oath, Epicenter, and Simplification with Early Voting and SkippyLongstocking. Making that $2 bet however is going to cost you more than an Andrew Jackson. The good news however is that if it hits, you'll be getting more than a Benjamin back.

Looking for something simpler, just something to give you some "skin in the game"? Bet SkippyLongstocking $2 across the board —which means $2 to win, place, or show. If that horse does manage to finish in the money, you'll be walking out with a profit. Just be prepared for it to finish fourth and walk out with nothing.

That will about do it for my 2022 Preakness Preview and Bets. Go, baby, go!

  — Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Contributor Network. Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.