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Horse Racing — Without Tiz the Law, Does the Preakness Belong to Authentic?

Racebook aficionados at BetOnline will be deprived of being able to see Tiz the Law, perhaps one of the the two best available three-year-olds in the country, in the 145th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on October 3.

Tiz the Law isn’t sitting out the Preakness because he is injured. His connections are skipping it because he needs some time to recover from the Kentucky Derby, and be fresher for the $6 million Breeders Cup Classic, where there is a potential showdown with Maximum Security, Tom’s d’Etat and Authentic, who beat out Tiz the Law in the Derby and may just have a second Triple Crown jewel under his belt by that time.

Authentic, part of a seemingly endless parade of three-year-old contenders trained by Bob Baffert, has won five of six starts. The only defeat came as a favorite in the Santa Anita Derby (second place), where he fell to Honor A.P. All told, he has four graded stakes wins, with two of those coming in Grade 1 company. And in the NTRA poll of three-year-olds, he is #1. So the significance of the Preakness is that Authentic can widen the gap, which would force Tiz the Law to either win the Breeders Cup Classic or beat out Authentic handily even in defeat to gain enough ground to capture the Eclipse award (emblematic of the three-year-old “championship”).

Who could pull an upset?

Well, Art Collector, who had a minor foot injury which forced him to scratch from the Derby, is training again. He has come alive as a three-year-old, with four straight decisive wins, including the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, which bodes well since that is where the Breeders Cup will be held in November. The last three Beyer Speed Figures for Art Collector were 102, 103 and 100. But Authentic chalked up a 105 in the Derby.

Here are the future odds for the Preakness as they are currently posted at BetOnline:

Preakness Stakes — October 3

Authentic +150
Art Collector +275
Thousand Words +800
Max Player +1200
Swiss Skydiver +1200
Mr Big News +1500
Happy Saver +1600
Pneumatic +1600
Country Grammer +2500
Mystic Guide +2500
Excession +2800
Jesus’ Team +2800
Liveyourbeastlife +3300

Baffert-trained Thousand Words won the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar on August 1 and registered a sizzling 104 Beyer. That was much higher than anything he had tallied before. Did he peek? We were supposed to find out in the Kentucky Derby, but he didn’t run.

Mr. Big News (trained by W. Bret Calhoun), who won the Oaklawn Stakes and was third in the Derby, must be considered. He’s hit 101 on his best Beyer.

Pneumatic (top Beyer of 99) won the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth August 15 after a fourth-place finish in the Belmont. He is one of three horses Steve Asmussen is expected to have in the Preakness. One of the others is Excession, who came second to Nadal in the Rebel Stakes (Oaklawn) and has been off the last six months. Was that an anomaly? As we’re speaking about Beyer figures, he had a 95 in that race, but had posted nothing better than a 79 prior to that.

Also, Asmussen has Max Player, who won the Withers back in February and has put forth some credible efforts since – third in both the Belmont and Travers, and fifth in the Kentucky Derby. Those are credentials that demand he be considered for the exotics. Owner George Hall is hoping he can get the kind of post position that will enable jockey Paco Lopez to maneuver him close to the pace early.

Veteran trainer Michael Stidham will send out Mystic Guide, a Godolphin horse who has never been off the board in five career starts. Last time out he won the Jim Dandy at Saratoga at a mile and an eighth. But he may just not be fast enough to contend here.

Jesus’ Team, who was fourth in the Haskell, second in the Pegasus, and third in the Jim Dandy, will be supplemented into the race for the $25,000 fee, along with fellow longshot Liveyourbeastlife. Happy Saver, trained by Todd Pletcher, earned his way in with a victory in the Federico Tesio at Laurel on September 7.

And then there’s the filly. Swiss Skydiver finished 3.5 lengths behind Art Collector in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, in her first start against males. And most recently, she was second to Shedaresthedevil in the Kentucky Oaks. Trainer Kenny McPeek was stil mulling over whether to put start in the Preakness, and will have that decision no later than Monday.

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