Steve Haskin’s 2022 Preakness Stakes Analysis

The Preakness lost its headliner when Derby winner Rich Strike backed out, but we still get a good matchup between Derby runner-up Epicenter, who most believe ran the best race of anyone, and the exciting filly Secret Oath, who has that big turn of foot. Here is something resembling an analysis of the race and how it shapes up. ~ Steve Haskin

Steve Haskin’s 2022 Preakness Stakes Analysis

By Steve Haskin


Before we get into the Preakness,  a few things you should know about the Derby. Rich Strike went into the race off a pedestrian “9 3/4” Thoro-Graph  number, with his fastest career number being a “9.” That slow a number spells automatic throwout. By comparison,  Taiba went in off a “negative-1/2” and White Abarrio a “1.” But lo and behold on the biggest day of his life he somehow rocketed to a “1 1/2 ” Considering his trainer said after the race the plan was to go to the Peter Pan and the Belmont if he didn’t get in the Derby and his owner said five days later the plan was to go to the Preakness if he didn’t get in the Derby, could it be they saw a massive “bounce” coming and decided that the Preakness would send them crashing back to earth from their high perch on cloud nine? This way they get to live the dream for another five weeks. Otherwise, why the contradiction and why announce the defection five days after the race? Food for thought.

Now looking at how big a race Epicenter ran in the Derby and why he will be a solid favorite in the Preakness, horses within eight lengths of the brutal :45 1/5 half were beaten 10 lengths, 15 3/4 lengths, 17 3/4, 18 3/4, 19 1/4, 20, 28, 42 3/4, 57, and 64 1/2 lengths. Epicenter and Zandon, who were 5 1/4 and 7 1/2 lengths back, respectively, were beaten three-quarters of a length and 1 1/2 lengths, respectively. Zandon, as reported, will not run in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Considering Epicenter ran basically the same Thoro-Graph number in the Kentucky Derby as he did in the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star Stakes and was coming off a six-week layoff going into the Kentucky Derby there is no reason to believe he will regress coming back in two weeks. With his versatility and tactical speed he should get a great position sitting right off likely pacesetter Early Voting, who will be a fresh horse coming off his big effort in the Wood Memorial.

Even though you have a classy confirmed frontrunner in Early Voting the pace scenario is still very much in the air. We know that another Baffert/Yakteen invader Armagnac has good early speed but has yet to demonstrate his class and we don’t know how huge longshot Fenwick is going to do but he’s only shown speed once and that was a moderate pace in a Tampa allowance race. But the key horse could be Simplication, a horse of many faces, who will be breaking from the rail under new rider, the crafty John Velazquez. We know Simplification has the early speed to go for the lead from the inside post. But we also know he is effective coming from midpack or even far back, as he was in the Derby, coming from 15th to finish fourth. So that adds to the confusion.

Epicenter as we know has early speed but now has become a stalker who rated beautifully in the Derby some five lengths off that brutal pace. Breaking from post 8 he has all the speed inside him, which is just what you want. But he still has to break well and make sure he doesn’t get caught too wide on the first turn.

So the bottom line is it is difficult to predict who will be where going into the turn. We do know that Secret Oath and the vastly improving Creative Minister will be the main threats coming from farther back and will be dependent on a fast or at least contentious pace.

Thoro-Graph numbers or any other speed figures sure didn’t do any good in the Derby and I’m not sure they will do any good in the Preakness. One to watch, however, is Creative Minister who has gone from a “9” to a “6 1/2” to a “2,” which was actually faster than Epicenter’s “2 1/4” in the Derby and Simplification’s “2 1/2.” His Beyer figures also have made significant improvement with each race, so this is a horse who definitely is on the rise and who has shown a powerful closing kick in all his races.

Imagine if Kenny McPeek, who had three strong Derby candidates early in the year, wins the Preakness with a different horse that no one heard of until his recent allowance victory.

If you want to know about Secret Oath, she ran a “2” in the Kentucky Oaks, which puts her right there with the leading Preakness horses. But she actually has run faster this year, so her best can certainly win this race.

Remember,  as strong as Epicenter looks his Thoro-Graph numbers have not improved since the Risen Star Stakes, nor has Simplification’s in his his last five starts. But it doesn’t look as if it’s going to take a fast number to win the Preakness.

There doesn’t seem to be many betting possibilities in this nine-horse field. Epicenter will be the clear-cut favorite and if he can avoid getting hung wide on the first turn he has the perfect running style to win this race, but obviously can only be played in the exotics and even then you’re not likely to make much money, especially if you play him over Secret Oath and Early Voting.

You can play all three over Creative Minister and Simplification to try for a decent return on your money and play Creative Minister and Simplification to win. You can add Skippylongstocking underneath as well if you believe the Wood Memorial was legit. Again, don’t be too surprised if Creative Minister gets bet down. Simplification could turn out to be the best overlay possibility.

Nothing clever here. The focus is on Epicenter vs. Secret Oath, so let’s hope both get good trips and run their “A” race.

A victory by Epicenter would set up an interesting rematch between him and Rich Strike in the Belmont Stakes along with the exciting fresh face We the People, a runaway winner of the Peter Pan Stakes. But let’s get through this one first.



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254 Responses to “Steve Haskin’s 2022 Preakness Stakes Analysis”

  1. joanne king kraft says:

    Disappointed with Rosario ride on Epicenter. Early Voting (horrible name as was Cloud Computing -Klarman needs a lesson in selecting horse names) did not surprise but I am not convinced that he is a better horse. Secret Oath looked fit but light as if she had lost some weight since the Oaks (took pictures of her and her ribs are too visible). Wish horse weights were published. Creative Minister should be a serious Belmont contender, especially with his pedigree. Not optimistic that Rich Strike will do well at Belmont.

    I have been an admirer of yours for many years. Wish you the best

  2. TommyMc says:

    I read a comment on another site that said if Rich Strike wins The Belmont, he locks up the Eclipse award. Maybe. But, if Early Voting wins The Travers and The Breeders Cup Classic, wouldn’t he have to at least be in the conversation? I think that there is a pretty good chance that we will see 3 different winners in the 3 Triple Crown races. No disrespect to Rich Strike. Part of me will be pulling for him in The Belmont even though it’s unlikely that I will bet on him. Unless Summer Is Tomorrow and Crown Pride are last minute entries to the race.

  3. Nick says:

    As a triple crown lover the Preakness was a dud I’m no fan of horses skipping the derby to be fresher for Preakness Steve I love your columns and amazing love for the triple crown thanks for all u do ! Ps I hate the name early voting and for that matter cloud computing to be so rich and to ruin fun tradition of the Preakness by skipping the derby just to win plus to name your horses those Names yuck !

    • Steve haskin says:

      Thanks Nick. The Klaravich horses with few exceptions are the worst named horses.

      • EddieF says:

        In my professional opinion, Bally Ache is the worst name of a Preakness winner. But all in all, Preakness winners’ names are better than Derby winners’ names. A few years back we had a string of Derby names only a mother could love: Mine That Bird, Super Saver, I’ll Have Another, Orb.

        • Lynda King says:

          Orb’s sire was Mailbu Moon. The definition of “orb” is a celestial object like the sun or the moon.
          Mind That Bird’s sire was Birdstone and his dam was Mining My Own.
          Super Saver’s dam was named Super Charger.
          I’ll Have Another was named supposedly by his owner. His wife asked him if he wanted another cookie and his response was “I’ll Have Another”. Mr Reddam thought that would be a good name for the colt.

          There are guidelines for the naming and registration of Thoroughbred horses as there are for most other horse breeds.
          The Jockey Club is responsible (since 1894) for maintaining the American Stud Book (or registry for Thoroughbreds). The Jockey Club also decides which names are allowed.

          There are rules.
          For example the number of characters cannot exceed 18.
          When the registration form is submitted, as I recall, 4 names must be submitted.
          Names in the database can be recycled (over 400,000 in the registry) unless the horse is a champion and in the case the name is retired. Example: Secretariat.
          Some names are either rejected or allowed because the definition or meaning of the name has changed or the name is already in use or are of a political nature or the horse is named after a living person.

          The most common naming pattern is combining the names of the sire and dam (as noted above, Mine That Bird as an example).

          Names also often reflect something about the owner. Example: Jerry Moss is a record producer and named Giacomo after the son of Sting. Zenyatta was named after the Police album “Zenyatta Mondatta”.

          Sometimes the names are rejected. If I recall correctly Mrs. Hamm submitted 10 different names before the 11th one, Secretariat was accepted.

          In this year’s Derby, the colt Cyberknife was named for the instrument used on owner’s Al Gold’s prostate cancer and to bring awareness to prostate cancer.

          As to some of the names for many of the horses owned by Klavarich Stables. one of the owners made his fortune in hedge fund market hence the names like Consumer Spending and Sound Money.

          The late Rick Porter named several of his colts after WW ll battles (Omaha Beach and Normandy Invasion). Steve wrote and article about how Mr, Porter’s filly Songbird was named.

          Sometimes a name can result in a controversy. Example is Enola Gay that I think was named in honor of one of the men that were on the plane named Enola Gay that dropped the nuclear bombs on Japan. Some group(s) took offense and petitioned to force the Jockey Club retract approval of the name. The plane, Enola Gay, was named after the mother of the pilot of the plane.

          In some cultures (Native American and Arabic) it is forbidden or considered bad luck to give a horse a “human name”. On a side note, I read that the owner of Godolphin personally approves the names of all his horses.

          Maybe it’s a chick thing, but I enjoy looking up or researching the names of the Thoroughbreds because often times the name has meaning beyond just being a combination of the sire and dam.

          I do, however, question the names of some horses. For example, this year, Messier. First time I heard his name, I laughed and thought who in the world would name their race horse Messier? Then I learned he was named after a sport star.

          My horses all have a name for a reason. The one mare was born on Good Friday and is a grey and part of her sire’s name is Divine, thus she was named Divine Easter Lily. Another mare’s name means special gift in Persian. My Appaloosa mare was named Crackling Rosie after the Neil Diamond song. She was born a red bay with a blanket with big spots (rose being red) and I thought the lyrics of the song fit her personality.

          I must confess that I do not particularly care for some the names given to the Thoroughbreds. Example, Gronkowski and some are just comical to me like Soup and Sandwich.

    • Discopartner says:

      The worst is naming horses after people, should be forbidden.

    • Mike Relva says:

      Nick, RS is a one run horse. Wise skipping Preakness. Would do same.

  4. Laura L Lanham says:

    Hey Steve! Any hints on your next words of wisdom?

    • Steve Haskin says:

      If youre referring to the Preakness I have no words of wisdom, just a tidbits type of column probably on Wednesday. There wasnt much to inspire me.

      • Discopartner says:

        New York horse and Wood runner wins Preakness in good time, it’s inspiring.

      • Ms Blacktype says:

        How about a story on a Preakness that DID inspire you, Steve — maybe that one from 1973? That one is burned into my brain, and I think I only saw it once. Secretariat was SO FAST.

      • Steve, my sentiments too about the Preakness … nothing inspiring !!! To me what is the biggest story is the … MISSED Opportunity for the Messier connections. That race would have been perfect for him. I am sure if Baffert had still been training him he would have been in it… Again from everything I have read, he came out of the Derby in good shape. Armagnac should have been in the Sir Barton Stakes. July 2nd won’t come fast enough for these connections !!! Maybe the June 11 Affirmed Stake at Santa Anita for Messier and Taiba the Ohio Derby on June 27th.

        Looking forward to your next column Steve !!!

  5. TommyMc says:

    The undefeated Flightline is listed as a “probable” for The Met Mile on Belmont Day, June 11th. It has a purse of $1million. It will be Flightline’s first race outside of California. When last seen, Flightline looked unbeatable. But, that was 5 months ago when he won Santa Anita’s opening day Malibu on 12-26-21. Flightline is a 4-year old now with only 3 lifetime starts. All 3 of those starts resulting in stunning victories. After his first start on 4-24-21, he needed over 4 months to recover until we saw him again on 9-5-21. Then he needed another 3 1/2 months before that Malibu win. He’s been working up a storm out in California. Flightline could be HorseRacing’s biggest star if he could just string some starts together. I hope he shows up on Belmont Day. Trainer John Sadler obviously has a challenge with Flightline.

    • TommyMc says:

      There are going to be 9 Stakes races on that Belmont Day card. The smallest purse for those 9 races is $400,000. The Belmont at $1.5 million and The Met Mile at $1million highlight the card.

      • Matthew W says:

        Every start is fresh, this year the Met Mile may have Flightline, Speaker’s Corner and perhaps Life Is Good……I’m a big Speaker’s Corner guy, Flightline is spectacular, so there’s the race—Ive seen some great horses in person, if you get the chance go see Flightline! Probably only three more starts, but Flightline is amazing, he makes good horses look ordinary, truly amazing!

  6. Matthew W says:

    I guess The Travers will be huge, this year!

    • EddieF says:

      It’s better than the Kentucky Derby! Always!! I can PROVE it.

      • Liam says:

        For the true horseplayer, I wouldn’t disagree. But you could be at the track or your favorite OTB facility on the 1st Saturday in May and ask the majority of people what’s the Travers and they wouldn’t have a clue. The Derby has been established as an American iconic brand and it’ll never squander away from that.

      • Matthew W says:

        It’s my favorite 3yo race.

  7. EddieF says:

    Kudos to Gun Runner, who has been one of the best first-crop sires of modern times. Early Voting is his fifth G1 winner, after Gunite, Echo Zulu, Cyberknife, and Taiba.

  8. TommyMc says:

    Steve Haskin was prophetic when he wrote of Epicenter “he still has to break well”. Well, he didn’t break well. I didn’t think that he looked as sharp before the race as he did before The Derby or in Louisianna. He’s a really good horse and he’ll win his share of races. But, the late developing horses are catching up to him now. Which leaves him little room for error. Like a slow break from the gate. Epicenter ran his eyeballs out in The Derby. It was a tough race that would have drained any horse. Coming back in 2 weeks was going to be tough after such a big effort. I raised my eyebrows when I saw Steve Asmussen work him out last weekend. I didn’t expect a :46 or :47, but, something a little zippier than the :50+ that he did run for 4-furlongs would have shown that he was still on edge.

  9. Blake says:

    Those crazy odd changes saved me a bunch of money! Thanks people.

  10. TommyMc says:

    It sounds like Rich Strike may be facing an entirely new cast of characters for The Belmont in 3 weeks. Rich Strike, We the People, and Creative Minister all look like they will be going to New York. I would have thought that Ethereal Road would be heading to Belmont after his big win yesterday running against the track bias. But, D Wayne Lukas is non-committal so far.

    • TommyMc says:

      Seth Klarman, owner of Klaravich Stables, said almost immediately after the race that Early Voting wouldn’t be going to The Belmont. That he preferred to let his rapidly improving colt improve some more and be pointed to The Travers. But, he also said that Chad Brown would make the final decision. Early Voting has been improving by leaps and bounds. If he keeps improving, he’ll be pretty scary by August and maybe for The Breeders Cup.

    • Laura L Lanham says:

      That’s a big stretch from 1 1/16 to 1 1/2. See what happens

    • EddieF says:

      Mo Donegal and Barber Road are probable.

    • Lynda King says:

      Probable/possible for Belmont Stakes so far (none confirmed):

      Western River R. Brisset
      Golden Glider M. Casse Probable
      Skippylongstocking S. Joseph, Jr. Jr.
      Barber Road J. Ortiz
      Creative Minister K. McPeek
      Nest T. Pletcher
      Ethereal Road D. Lukas
      We the People R. Brisset

      The two that I find most interesting are Nest and We The People
      Rich Strike E. Reed
      Mo Donegal T. Pletcher

  11. Ms Blacktype says:

    The similarities between Cloud Computing (four syllables) and Early Voting (four syllables) are eerily striking. Same trainer, same owner, and of course same pattern coming into the Preakness. That’s why I picked against him — but all are good reasons to pick for him given his class. Deep down, I was for Epicenter and Simplification because I wanted to see one or both horses redeem themselves.

    This is why I rarely bet — emotions I don’t even know I’m feeling tend to get in the way.

    • joanne king kraft says:

      Well said. I have the same problem. After seeing Secret Oath exit the paddock prior to the race, I thought she looked light and was tempted to change my bet. Epicenter to me , looked really good as did Early Voting (both with good flesh and tolerating the heat well).

  12. TommyMc says:

    A blogger at HRN said that Early Voting earned a 105 BSF for his Preakness win. I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t really trust things that I read over there.

  13. Matthew W says:

    Epicenter showed speed in all his races but not yesterday….Rosario was able to get the rail even got thru down the lane I thought he put up a terrific ride, considering he didn’t have his early foot….Early Voting is a good horse….both Epi and Early are not Belmont bound, as I understand .

  14. TommyMc says:

    BTW, Belinda Stronach was interviewed on NBC in between The Chainsmokers and Marshmellow Head. She said that The Preakness would remain at Pimlico and that a re-development project is already under way and should be completed by 2026. I should live so long. Some of us were talking about The Preakness moving to Laurel. It doesn’t sound like it will happen.
    BTW#2, Nick Luck seemed really out of his element on stage with Marshmello Head.

  15. Lynda King says:

    Good Sunday Morning everyone!

    Congratulations to Early Voting.

    Way down in this post I stated that I thought the race was going to come down to these four: Epicenter, Simplification, Secret Oath and Early Voting. The one I was totally wrong about was Simplification (I did read on BH this morning that he bled, (possibly, in my opinion, a result of the heat).

    After the Derby, many said that Rosario had Epicenter too far forward. Now, after the Preakness many are saying that Rosario had him too far back. After watching the replay of the race twice I saw there was crowding and bumping at the start. Skippylongstocking came over hard on Epicenter, hitting him on the shoulder. Epicenter turned his head as if he was going to react by biting Skippylongstocking and Rosario pulled his head back to the left. Secret Oath was also crowded and almost clicked heels (I think with Happy Jack) thus losing her momentum. She was dead last and did manage to step up to get fourth. Epicenter finally got to run and salvaged a second place finish. It is for each person to decide if either ended up compromised from the start as an explanation as to why neither won or if indeed they both got a bad ride. Overall it was a rather lackluster race in my opinion with good news being that as far as we know all came home safely. Chad Brown did make a good decision to skip the Derby and on Saturday, that decision paid off.

    TommyMc, I was not able to watch the President’s Cup until late last night when the race replay dropped. I was not surprised one bit by Hiab Al Zaman winning and winning so handily or Quick Sand AA closing fast to take second. I know that many do not care for Arabian horse racing because they are “slow” but I hope some of you do come to appreciate the sheer beauty of these Arabian horses and how seem to literally float across the track with their heads up, ears pricked and their flag tails streaming behind. They are indeed, “The Drinkers of the Wind”. The other plus for Arabian racing is that many of the trainers are women and most of the horses are homebreds. Arabian racing has not yet been tarnished by wealthy owners, expensive stallions and million dollar plus babies in the auctions. It is horse racing in its purist form.

    One more comment. I find all this chatter about making changes to the Triple Crown races to be ridiculous. And I certainly think that “requiring” the Derby winner to run in the Preakness to be beyond the pale. Sour grapes is not a valid reason to change the order, distance, and time spacing between the races.

    • TommyMc says:

      I very much enjoyed The President’s Cup. In fact, I used both of the top 2 finishers which enabled me to hit the last pick-3 of the day.

    • TommyMc says:

      If they were to change the Triple Crown schedule, it would be an entirely different thing and any future Triple Crown Winners would need to have an asterisk IMO.

      • EddieF says:

        Funny how there are no asterisks after the names of the first seven Triple Crown winners, from Sir Barton to Citation. Schedules were different for all those Triple Crowns.

    • EddieF says:

      Thanks for the news item on Simplification, Lynda. It’s good to know that the reason for my betting loss wasn’t only because of my stupidity. 😉 As for the conversation about changing the TC, I’m pretty sure that most of it was tongue-in-cheek. At least that’s how I saw it, considering that I was the one who started the thread. LOL. And I don’t see why you would consider sour grapes to be the reason for suggesting a change. Nothing stays the same, even the pies at my favorite pizza joint.

      • Lynda King says:

        EddieF, please know that my “sour grapes” comment was not directed at you or anyone else on here. And in fact I did not call out anyone or any blog site in particular. “One more comment. I find all this chatter about making changes to the Triple Crown races to be ridiculous. And I certainly think that “requiring” the Derby winner to run in the Preakness to be beyond the pale. Sour grapes is not a valid reason to change the order, distance, and time spacing between the races.”

        Steve’s blog is not the only one I read by any means though it is the one I most frequently comment on.

        • EddieF says:

          Hi, Lynda. I was thrown off by the word “this” in “all this chatter.” No harm done. 🙂

        • joanne king kraft says:

          Remember Samuel Riddle did not run MAN O War in the Derby because he thought 1 1/4 miles at that time of year was asking too much of a 3 yr old colt. Man O War ran in and won the Preakness and the Belmont. If Preakness prevented non Derby runners from racing we would have been denied to see the magnificence of Man O War.

    • Laura L Lanham says:

      I saw Secret Oath get crowded at the start and she never really got any racing room after that. Way it goes. She still has that kick though but couldn’t sustain it. All in all 4th not bad for having to go so wide on the turn.

      I did watch the Presidents Cup and enjoyed it. We wouldn’t have the Thoroughbred and many others if not for the influence of these horses.

      I also agree leave the Triple Crown alone.

      • Lynda King says:

        Laura L, Secret Oath indeed should receive praise and congratulations for her 4th place finish. She has determination, speed and talent and I am quire sure she will be highly competitive the rest of the year.

        • Laura L Lanham says:

          Hopefully she recovered ok and on to the Coaching Club. I expect her to do quite well the rest of the summer racing against the fillies. Really too early to talk Breeder Cup races but intrigued Sodashi punched her ticket to get in.

          • Lynda King says:

            Have not heard how Secret Oath came out of the face other than Pimlico did issue a press release that all of the horses came out of the Preakness well. Someone who attended the race said that she looked tired in the post parade. I did not get that impression but I was watching on TV. She certainly throws her heart down in every race and does not give up. Luis Saez said in an interview after the race that she broke well but the other horses were all over the place and it was hard to get he into a good position. She did make her move at the half mile when asked but it was just not enough to catch the leader. The stretch at Pimlico is short (as I have read) and if it were longer, in my opinion, she would have been able to crack the top 3. Saez did not mention the interference from Happy Jack.

            Absolutely love Sodashi!

  16. TommyMc says:

    Very strange betting in The Preakness. Fenwick 50-1 Morning Line/went off at 13-1. Happy Jack 30-1 ML/went off at 11-1. Skippylongstockings 20-1 ML/went off at 12-1. All of that caused “overlays” on Early Voting, Secret Oath, and Simplification. Epicenter & Creative Minister went off at exactly their ML odds of 6-5 & 10-1. But, I even look at Epicenter as an Overlay. Didn’t most of us expect him to be odds-on? I figured him for 3-5 or 4-5.
    What caused this? Was it some sort of “computerized batch betting”? Was it people hearing all the hype about the 80-1 winner of The Derby? Very strange that the 3 longest ML priced horses took so much money. It’s hard to believe that it was just casual fans that caused this situation. It was a lot of money. WAIT A MINUTE! What was Mattress Mac up to yesterday? Like Arnold Rothstein back in 1918, Mac is the only guy with the cash to pull this off.
    I forgot about Armagnac 12-1 ML/off at 18-1.

    • TommyMc says:

      But, seriously. The Preakness was actually very formful. Is formful even a word? IDK. The last 3 horses were Fenwick, Happy Jack, and Armagnac. The first 2 horses were the first 2 favorites on the ML. Fenwick, on paper, looked every bit of 50-1. But, he went off at 13-1. Weird.

      • EddieF says:

        Yes, Tommy. “Formful” is a word. It’s an adjective meaning full of form, like my growing midsection.