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.



Signup for the newsletter For new announcements, merchandise updates and other excitement here at, please enter your email address in the popup window. Our mailing list is never sold or viewed by anyone other than