Zipse: Owendale looks ready to pop in the Preakness Stakes

May 14, 2019 11:35am
Zipse: Owendale looks ready to pop in the Preakness Stakes
Photo: Nedim Slijepcevic

It's been a long time -- nearly 70 years -- since none of the top finishers from the Kentucky Derby entered the starting gate for the Preakness Stakes.

Historically, Derby runners have held a significant advantage in racing's middle jewel, but with the first four to the wire in Louisville not making the trip to Baltimore, this appears like a great opportunity for a new shooter to step up and become a classic winner. I see
Owendale as an excellent candidate to do just that. 

Brad Cox and team have always been high on the son of Into Mischief, but honestly his results have not matched their enthusiasm. That is, until last month at Keeneland.

Storming to the lead with an explosive wide rally under Florent Geroux, Owendale looked like anything but a 12-1 shot when he rolled home an eye-catching winner of the Lexington Stakes (G3).

In raising his record to three wins from eight lifetime starts, the $200,000 yearling purchase took a big step forward, and in a year without a clear horse to beat in the Preakness, a repeat performance could put him right in the mix on Saturday at Pimlico.

Or perhaps we can expect even more from the Rupp Racing-owned
Owendale. He not only looked like a colt putting it all together in the Lexington, but he has brought his upward momentum to his home base of Churchill Downs.

He's looked great since arriving from Keeneland, and turned in a nice final breeze over the weekend. His bullet workout of five furlongs in :59.20 seconds sure gives the impression that this he is absolutely flourishing for the Preakness.

“I feel like Owendale is still figuring it out,” Cox said. “He’s definitely hitting his best stride midway through his 3-year-old year. It’s not just about next Saturday. It’s about going on and developing him as the year goes on.”

Cox is one of the finest young horseman in the business. Last year he guided Monomoy Girl to a magical season and an Eclipse Award. He's never had a Triple Crown starter before, but the way he has been winning big races the past few years, it would come as to no surprise to see him break through quickly.

Interestingly, Owendale is not the only one in the Preakness for Cox, as he will also saddle
Warrior’s Charge, a later edition to the prospective field.

Another talented colt, this one is more lightly seasoned than Owendale, and might find Saturday's big test to be a little too much too soon. What he should bring, though, is more speed to a race that looks to have a fair share. That quality should benefit his stablemate. 

In his Lexington win, Owendale relaxed kindly for Geroux, and we saw the result. When asked, he responded in a big way. This newfound ability to kick it in with an impressive turn of foot could well be the way the Preakness is won on Saturday.

Of those coming out of the Kentucky Derby, Improbable and War of Will look like the ones to beat. They are both proven multiple stakes winners, who deserve to be among the favorites for the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Having said, neither exactly strikes fear in their competition. The Preakness favorites are both beatable.

With many of the top runners from the Kentucky Derby absent from this year's Preakness, the race is ripe for the taking for a horse who didn't even contest the sloppy edition of the Run for the Roses. The rapidly improving Owendale has a great opportunity to be just the horse to take full advantage.


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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