Keeler Johnson’s Preakness 146 Selections

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

How times flies! The 146th running of the Preakness (G1) will take place on Saturday at Pimlico, just two weeks after an ultra-competitive renewal of the Kentucky Derby (G1).

The second leg of the Triple Crown has attracted a field of 10, including seven newcomers who skipped the Derby. Let's take a horse-by-horse look at the field:

#1 Ram (30-1): Son of American Pharoah has made rapid progress in recent weeks and was a flashy allowance winner on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs. But Ram was the beneficiary of a fast pace, and the waters will be much deeper at Pimlico.

#2 Keepmeinmind (15-1): Pure stretch runner unleashed a wide rally to pass tired rivals and finish seventh in the Kentucky Derby. Winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) as a juvenile, Keepmeinmind seems to have hit a form plateau this season and may need a step forward to factor in the Preakness.

#3 Medina Spirit (9-5): Although the Preakness will mark Medina Spirit's seventh start in five months, the stoutly bred son of Protonico is thriving on his busy schedule. A minor operation to correct a breathing issue seems to have worked wonders; after finishing second with a wide trip in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Medina Spirit led from start to finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1), battling across the finish line half a length in front.

The latter effort was achieved in the rapid time of 2:01.02 (the eighth-fastest Derby in history), in part because Medina Spirit finished fast, sprinting the final half mile in :49.81. The Bob Baffert trainee is clearly at his best when setting the pace and daring his rivals to catch up, so drawing post three (with deep closers to his inside) should afford Medina Spirit every opportunity to secure the early advantage. From there, he'll be tough to run down.

It's also worth noting Baffert saddled six Kentucky Derby winners between 1997 and 2020, and five of them came back to win the Preakness. The lone exception was Authentic, who lost the 2020 Preakness by a neck when the race was postponed due to COVID-19 and held four weeks after the Derby. In short, Baffert's Derby stars thrive when wheeling back on short rest for the Preakness, and I expect Medina Spirit to deliver a big effort.

#4 Crowded Trade (10-1): Chad Brown trainee boasts a racing record astonishingly similar to that of 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing. The son of More Than Ready arguably fell too far off the pace when rallying to third in the Wood Memorial (G2); two starts back, he was beaten a nose in the Gotham (G3) after tracking the pace. Crowded Trade has been pointed specifically to the Preakness and figures to secure a mid-pack closing trip at Pimlico. I'm keen to include him in trifecta and superfecta tickets.

#5 Midnight Bourbon (5-1): A slow start forced Midnight Bourbon to rally from mid-pack in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished sixth with a wide trip. The son of Tiznow is more comfortable racing on or near the lead, as he did when posting a gate-to-wire victory in the Lecomte (G3).

With an alert break in the Preakness, Midnight Bourbon figures to return to forwardly placed tactics, perhaps stalking Medina Spirit and Concert Tour. If a modest tempo unfolds, the three favorites can potentially run 1-2-3 around the track. My only concern is the possibility Midnight Bourbon might be starting to regress after a busy winter/spring campaign.

#6 Rombauer (12-1): If there's a double-digit longshot capable of outrunning expectations in the Preakness, I believe it's Rombauer. Winner of the El Camino Real Derby and runner-up in the American Pharoah (G1), Rombauer ran a deceptively strong race when finishing third in the Blue Grass (G2) last month. After chasing a slow pace from third place (a much more forward trip than usual), Rombauer sprinted the final three furlongs in a snappy :36.84 to remain in third place, 5 3/4 lengths behind champion two-year-old Essential Quality.

Rombaur skipped the Kentucky Derby to target the Preakness, which will mark his third start of the season. The son of Twirling Candy has been cranking out fast five-furlong workouts at Santa Anita, so I expect him to show a bit more tactical speed again in the Preakness. I believe Rombauer is a must-use runner for trifecta tickets, and even a top-two finish isn't out of the question.

#7 France Go de Ina (20-1): Japanese raiders have consistently outrun expectations in the American classics, so I won't dismiss France Go de Ina from consideration. A slow start compromised his chances when sixth in the UAE Derby (G2), but the son of Will Take Charge had previously dominated 1,800-meter maiden and allowance races in Japan. Hot jockey Joel Rosario picks up the mount, and France Go de Ina is bred to relish classic distances, so I can envision a scenario where France Go de Ina comes running down the stretch to catch a spot in the superfecta. But the Belmont (G1) is the race where I'll be especially interested in supporting France Go de Ina.

#8 Unbridled Honor (15-1): Closed from last place to finish second in the Lexington (G3), but did benefit from a pace meltdown over a sloppy track. Previously fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), Unbridled Honor is progressing in the right direction, but might not get the same favorable setup at Pimlico.

#9 Risk Taking (15-1): If you draw a line through Risk Taking's seventh-place effort in the Wood Memorial (G2), his form is encouraging. The Chad Brown trainee broke his maiden racing 1 1/8 miles and dominated the Withers (G3) by 3 3/4 lengths during the winter. But was his Wood Memorial disappointment a fluke, or was it the result of stepping up against tougher competition? That's a key question to consider when analyzing Risk Taking's Preakness potential. His form wasn't really flattered when Withers runner-up Overtook returned to finish third against a small field in the Pater Pan (G3).

#10 Concert Tour (5-2): The second Baffert trainee won his first three starts in impressive fashion, including a dominant gate-to-wire score in the Rebel (G2). But the son of Street Sense disappointed as the 3-10 favorite in the Arkansas Derby (G1), faltering to finish third by 2 1/2 lengths.

Perhaps pressing the pace through quick fractions compromised Concert Tour's chances, but the fact pacesetter Caddo River battled back to finish ahead of the favorite suggests Concert Tour simply regressed off his Rebel romp. The good news is, he's trained forwardly in the interim and picks up Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith for his second attempt at the Grade 1 level. If Concert Tour settles into a relaxed stalking trip, he'll have every chance to crack the top three.


1st: Medina Spirit
2nd: Concert Tour
3rd: Rombauer
4th: Midnight Bourbon

Now it's your turn! Who do you like in the Preakness?


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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He is the founder of the horse racing website

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