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Heller's Preakness Stakes pick is Alwaysmining

Heller's Preakness Stakes pick is Alwaysmining

The Daily Gazette's handicapper makes his predictions for the second leg of the Triple Crown series
Heller's Preakness Stakes pick is Alwaysmining
Preakness contender Alwaysmining works out at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland, last week.
Photographer: Photo Provided

With the top three finishers of the Kentucky Derby and the scratched Derby morning-line favorite skipping Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, we’re making our top two picks new shooters. Both should be square prices.

OUR TOP PICK

Alwaysmining enters the Preakness with a six-race winning streak, and none of the races were close. In his last start, in the mile-and-an-eighth Federico Tesio Stakes, this speedster rated in third, four lengths off the lead, then blew the competition away, scoring by 11 lengths at odds of 1-20. We realize that his first appearance in a graded stakes is a huge step up, but he’s not facing Omaha Beach, Maximum Security, Country House, Code of Honor or Tacitus. Why not?

OUR SECOND PICK

Bourbon War was mighty impressive when he rallied to finish second by three-quarters of a length to Code of Honor in the Grade II Fountain of Youth. Then he was far back early and only finished fourth by 7 1/2 lengths to Maximum Security in the Grade I Florida Derby. He adds blinkers, and it should help his early position. He’ll be running late.

THE TOP THREATS

Improbable, who could be the Preakness favorite picking up Mike Smith, began his career with three victories, but in three starts this year, he was second, second again and then fifth under Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Kentucky Derby, only beaten 3 1/4 lengths. Ortiz did nothing wrong in the Kentucky Derby.

War of Will is a tough read here. He was just a length off Maximum Security in third around the top of the stretch when Maximum Security interfered with him, causing the first disqualification of a Kentucky Derby winner on race day in its long history. War of Will finished eighth by 4 1/2 lengths, but obviously would have been closer had he not been fouled. After winning three straight, he’s lost his last two and could be overlooked a bit.

Signalman must be respected off his six finishes in the money in seven starts including a third in the Blue Grass Stakes. He didn’t get into the Derby, which could turn into a blessing as he’s fresh to fire his best shot in the Preakness.

Win Win Win was 10th in the Kentucky Derby, but beat Signalman in the Blue Grass by a nose when he finished a fast-closing second. If you want to toss the Derby because he didn’t handle the sloppy track, he makes a lot of sense.

COULD BE OKAY

Owendale was impressive in winning the Grade III Lexington Stakes in his last start, but was eighth to War of Will in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes the race before. He had a sharp, five-furlong bullet work for this.

Anothertwistafate’s second in the Lexington Stakes gave him three victories and a pair of seconds in his last five starts.

Bodexpress, a maiden, was taken up when 14th in the Kentucky Derby. He finished second by 3 1/2 lengths to Maximum Security in the Florida Derby at 71-1 the race before.

NOW WE’RE REACHING

Laughing Fox won a $300,000 stakes at Oaklawn Park in his last start after finishing fourth in the Grade I Arkansas Derby.

Warrior’s Charge is a late addition taking a huge step up seeking his third consecutive victory.

Everfast is another late addition. He is 1-for-10, including a second in the Grade II Holy Bull Stakes at 128-1.

Yet another late addition, Market King, was 11th in the Blue Grass Stakes. Enough said.

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