- Bourbon War is winless in his past two graded stakes races but demonstrated exceptional ability as a closer in a second-place run at the Fountain of Youth
- Absense of Kentucky Derby favorites and availability of jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. fueled trainer Mark Hennig’s decision to enter Bourbon War in Preakness Stakes
- Improbable still leads the way as Preakness Stakes betting favorite, closely followed by War of Will, who once again starts on the rail following controversial finish at the Kentucky Derby
With post time marking the start of the 2019 Preakness Stakes now just hours away, Bourbon War continues to make a late charge on the horse racing futures and now joins the favorites with improved +600 Preakness Stakes odds.
Odds to Win 2019 Preakness Stakes
|War of Will||+400|
|Win Win Win||+1400|
*Odds taken on 05/18/19
Bourbon War Fell Short of Qualifying for Kentucky Derby
With Irad Oriz Jr. aboard, Bourbon War closed from ninth to finish fourth in his last outing at the Florida Derby. But that wasn’t enough to lift him above 22nd place on the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings, leaving him out of the field for this year’s Run for the Roses.
The Mark Hennig-trained colt also endured a shaky start in his only other graded stakes race appearance this year. Trailing badly early on at the Fountain of Youth, he demonstrated his impressive ability as a closer, storming from well back of the pack in the final quarter to finish a close second to Code of Honor.
With plenty of unfulfilled potential, Bourbon War opened as a +1200 bet on the Preakness Stakes in the days following the Kentucky Derby. And as it became apparent that none of the top horses at the Kentucky Derby would be competing at the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday evening, Bourbon War’s stock has continued to rise.
Absense of Kentucky Derby Favorites Leaves Wide-Open Field
Kentucky Derby winner Country House, as well as betting favorites Maximum Security, Roadster, Game Winner, and Tacitus are all taking a pass on this year’s Preakness Stakes, leaving it a wide-open field.
Maximum Security, Roadster, Game Winner, and Tacitus are all taking a pass on this year’s Preakness Stakes, leaving it a wide-open field.
And with jockey Mike E. Smith now confirmed as his mount, replacing Ortiz, who rode him to a fourth-place finish at the Kentucky Derby, Improbable has been a steady presense atop the Preakness Stakes odds, and enters race day as a +250 favorite, just ahead of War of Will at +400.
— Preakness Stakes (@PreaknessStakes) May 15, 2019
Smith gained immortality by riding Justify to a Triple Crown victory a year ago, and has two career wins to his credit at the Preakness Stakes, including his victory aboard Prairie Bayou in 1993. In addition, Smith powered Cutting Humor to a 10th-place finish two weeks ago at Churchill Downs.
Availability of Ortiz Spurs Decision to Race Bourbon War
Ortiz, who leads all jockeys this season with 608 starts and 144 wins was not without a ride at the Preakness Stakes for long. The 26-year-old rising star has immediately benefited from Hennig’s late decision to enter Bourbon War in the Preakness Stakes field, and will be aboard the three-year-old on Saturday evening.
Combined with a forecast calling for warm, dry weather in Baltimore on Saturday evening, the availability of Ortiz as Bourbon War’s mount has lifted the three-year-old from a +900 bet after drawing into the two-gate earlier this week.
Trainer Mark Hennig on Bourbon War to Preakness. Bullet work today at Belmont, 5 furlongs in 1:01 and 3/5, 3rd of 16 at distance. Comes off fourth in Florida Derby behind Maximum Security. @WLKY pic.twitter.com/xzyv1WSJCO
— Fred Cowgill WLKY (@FredCowgillWLKY) May 9, 2019
But while the spotlight is clearly focused on the two superstar jockeys, it is difficult to overlook the other two horses among the favorites on the Preakness Stakes odds.
War of Will, Alwaysmining Intriguing Options
War of Will has endured tough luck in his past two outings after posting three-straight victories.
The Mark Casse-trained colt struggled to a ninth-place finish at the Louisiana Derby, but was enjoying a strong run after starting on the rail at the Kentucky Derby before being interfered with Maximum Security, a foul that led to his seventh-place finish and Maximum Security’s disqualification.
However, War of Will will get another chance to demonstrate his strength running on the inside after drawing the one-gate once again in Saturday’s race.
Winner of six-straight races, Alwaysmining sits alongside Bourbon War as a +600 bet after drawing the seven-gate. However, the three-year-old gelding has raced over a mile just twice in his career, and has never competed in a graded stakes race.
Pick: Bourbon War (+600)