Mage was one of two starters who went to post in the Kentucky Derby a couple of weeks ago, and that was considered to be bad news for any hopeful. But trainer Gustavo Delgado Sr. and jockey Javier Castellano defied the odds and came home in front.
Now BetOnline customers will have a chance to see if this horse, who has almost 400 owners through its syndication structure, can complete the second jewel in the Triple Crown with a win at the Preakness Stakes, which is run over a mile and three-sixteenths and carries a post-time of 7:01 PM ET at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Mage went from 11th place to second very quickly in the crowded field at Churchill Downs, and captured the most prestigious race in America in only his fourth start. It was perhaps fortunate that the morning line favorite, Forte, was scratched with a left foot bruise. Forte had previously beat out Mage, narrowly, in the Florida Derby.
If Mage is the best horse in the field, he won't have to pass as many horses as he did last time. There are only seven of them going to post, after First Mission was scratched.
Mage is the only starter from the Kentucky Derby who is also competing here at the Preakness. That's the way the business has become, with the three Triple Crown races are schedule over a five-week period.
Here are the numbers on today's field, as they are posted in the BetOnline racebook:
(1) Nattional Treasure 4-1
(2) Chase the Chaos 50-1
(3) Mage 6-5
(4) Coffeewithchris 20-1
(5) Red Route One 10-1
(6) Perform 15-1
(7) Blazing Sevens 6-1
There is little question that based on everybody's last effort, Mage is the fastest horse in this field, as he ran to a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in the Derby. No other contestant in this race has even hit 100 yet.
But perhaps whether that is a one-off is a legitimate question. The form he showed in the Florida Derby, trading punches with Forte, was an indicator that this was a horse to be dealt with.
Can any other horse in this field deal with him effectively?
National Treasure (+400), who finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby after being inactive for about three months, is likely to at least force the issue. It is a distinct possibility that jockey Johnny Velasquez is going to have him on the lead, and that might make Mage put it into another gear earlier than he'd like. This marks the return to Pimlico for Bob Baffert, who missed all the Triple Crown races last year, having been given a 90-day suspension. Baffert is no joke when saddling up contestants in this race, having won the Preakness seven times.
Blazing Sevens (+600) last won a race in October - the Champagne, for two year olds. But there has not been much that's impressive about recent outings, as he finished eighth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream and a non-competing Blue Grass at Keeneland. Trainer Chad Brown was won this race with Cloud Computing and Early Voting.
Perform (+1500) took six races in his career to break maiden. He was also no better than 5-1/2 lengths behind Mage when the two raced each other at Gulfstream in January. Trainer Shug McGaughey, who was won the Derby and the Belmont but not the Preakness, believes this is the right time for his horse, who won the Federico Tesio Stakes but only posted a Beyer of 85.
Red Route One (+1000) could use a brisk pace from National Treasure or others, because the son of Gun Runner is, for all intents and purposes, the deep closer in this field. Chase the Chaos (+5000) womn the El Camino Real Derby, but what does that mean? In the process of doing so, he registered a beyer figure of 82. That;'s not good enough to compete at this level. Coffeewithchris (+2000) is a Maryland-bred gelding whose sire, Ride on Curlin, was the runner-up in the 2014 Preakness Stakes. With Beyers of 88, 85 and 82 in his last three races, this is not a serious contender.
Mage could cruise to a victory here. But somehow Red Route One intrigues me, and that's what we'll probably use in a perfacts box.
The race is on! Get over to BetOnline today and bet the Preakness! They have win-place-show, exacta and trifecta wagers in the racebook, along with all kinds of interesting props in the sportsbook interface. Remember that you can compete to pick who's first and last, and make yourself some money. There's $5000 up for grabs!