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Odds, horse-by-horse analysis for Preakness Stakes

Michael “The Wizard” Kipness, a professional horse racing handicapper since 1986, analyzes the eight-horse field for Saturday’s 149th Preakness Stakes, designating each horse as a contender or a pretender to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Visit wizardraceandsports.com for his full card selections and wagering strategies for Friday’s Black Eyed Susan Day (14 races) and Saturday’s Preakness Day (14 races).

Post position, horse, jockey, morning-line odds:

1. Mugatu, Bravo, 20-1

Did not draw from Also Eligibles for the Kentucky Derby and Saturday draws the rail for the Preakness. Lone win came over synthetic surface with Bravo aboard. One run closer is clearly overmatched. Pretender.

2. Uncle Heavy, Irad Ortiz Jr., 20-1

Both wins have come going long over wet tracks, including a victory in the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct. Last time out in the Wood Memorial, he ran deceptively well, finishing fifth, racing wide throughout breaking from post 12. Draws a good inside post getting a major upgrade in riders to Ortiz. Unlikely to win, but could hit the board at a big price. Contender.

3. Catching Freedom, Prat, 6-1

Wheeled back on just two weeks rest after his fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. This is not a typical move by trainer Brad Cox, but perhaps the speed figure pair-up, often a harbinger of 3-year-old improvement, helped influence his decision. Deep closer has the class and consistency to win, but there are several obstacles he must overcome, including the possibility of having to run over a wet track. Prefers it dry. Contender.

4. Muth, Hernandez, 8-5

Muth, trained by Bob Baffert and the morning-line favorite, was scratched Wednesday because of a spiked temperature.

5. Mystik Dan, B. Hernandez, 5-2

Upset winner by a nose at 18-1 in the Kentucky Derby after receiving a picture-perfect ride and trip by Hernandez is wheeled back on just two weeks rest. He ran his worst race in seven starts in November off the same short break, but was an inexperienced horse being asked to stretch out and step up in class. Obviously much improved as a 3-year-old and showed he loves a wet track with an eight-length win in the Southwest at Oaklawn in February. Any moisture would only help. Contender.

6. Seize the Grey, Torres, 15-1

Wheeled back on just two weeks rest after an upset win in the Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. The waters get far tougher here stretching out in distance against much tougher competition. Pretender.

7. Just Steel, Rosario, 15-1

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has two entrants for the Preakness, and both are rank outsiders. Exits a well-beaten 17th in the Kentucky Derby. I didn’t like him that day, and I don’t like him in the Preakness. The style this versatile horse employs in this race could heavily factor in the outcome, but not for him. Pretender.

8. Tuscan Gold, Gaffalione, 8-1

With only three starts, he’s the most lightly raced horse in the field, but has plenty of upside. Improved dramatically with an emphatic six-length maiden win in his 3-year-old debut and first start around two turns Jan. 31. Stepped up sharply in class to finish third, beaten by just 1¾ lengths in the Louisiana Derby, won by Catching Freedom. Tactical speed to help overcome outside post. Bred for wet. Trainer Chad Brown has two Preakness wins and just missed a third one last year, all with horses with similar inexperience who skipped the Derby and pointed for this race. Contender.

9. Imagination, Dettori, 6-1

The Baffert horse has never been off the board in six starts, including two wins. Suffered a neck defeat last time out in the Santa Anita Derby to Stronghold, who ran respectably in the Kentucky Derby. He’s quick enough to get the early lead if aggressively ridden by Dettori right from the start. Been working head to head with Muth. Contender.

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