The Preakness Free Picks, Predictions and Preview (5/21/22)

The Preakness is this Saturday. Check out numberFire racing's analysis of the biggest races on the card.

According to numberFire Racing's analysis, these are the best bets and plays to make on TVG on Saturday, May 21st.

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Race 8 – Dinner Party (Gr 2)

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1 - Tango Tango Tango: Won the American Derby at Arlington before finishing second in a weak running of the Bruce D. there last year. Returned with a bang this season winning a pair of allowance optional claimers at Gulfstream Park and Belmont Park, the latter a career best on the speed figures. Another step forward required to figure here.

2 - Novo Sol (BRZ): A Brazilian import who struck at the first time of asking in the US back in January. Ran well when third in the Pan American at Gulfstream Park over 1½m next time behind crack turf horse Gufo. Should give it a good go but has work to do.

3 - Set Piece (GB): From the same barn as Vindictive. Found graded company a bit too hot on previous attempts but has won three of his seven starts. Beaten a head in the Excelsior at Aqueduct last time, finishing just over 6 lengths clear of yet another stablemate who went on to win a stakes race earlier this month. Certainly isn’t one to write off.

4 - Beacon Hill: Has won three times, including sole try over this course and distance last summer. Ran a fine race when beaten a nose on reappearance in an allowance at Keeneland. He’s consistent and should run his race but may find a couple too good on his first step into graded company.

5 - English Bee: The most exposed runner in this lineup, has been kept busier than most of late and has been running creditably overall. A repeat of his third in the Fort Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park back in December could see him battling it out for a place.

6 - Atone: A two-time winner in 2021, seems to be improving on the figures with age.Made the first four in his last three starts, the latter pair at Grade 1 level. In with a clear shout if backing up his recent efforts.

7 - Nathan Detroit: Won an allowance contest at Laurel last time. An inconsistent performer flying too high here.

Set Piece possibly just needed the outing but wasn’t beaten far in the Makers Mark and is taken to reverse form with Atone and resume winning ways. The latter continues to progress and may well find this a bit easier. English Bee may well prove best of the rest.

Race 9 - Chick Lang (Gr 3)

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1 - Cogburn: Won twice from four starts. Beaten just a neck by Whelen Springs (pair clear) in a stakes race at Oaklawn Park at the end of last month. He’s weighted to reverse that form this time, whilst also likely to give Old Homestead a hard time of it on the front end.

2 - Lightening Larry: Never out of the first two in stakes events in his last four starts, including a success at Gulfstream Park on New Year’s Day. Switched barns from Jeff Engler prior to latest outing when beaten 4¾ lengths at Tampa Bay. Career best required.

3 - Doctor Jeff: Won a maiden special weight at Belmont Park on debut last year. Wasn’t disgraced in Grade 2 events on next couple of starts, before signing off for the year winning a stakes contest. Has worked well recently and his trainer has a good record with those off lengthy absences, but this isn’t an easy spot on seasonal reappearance.

4 - My Handsome Man: Finally off the mark at the fourteenth attempt last time.Would most certainly be a shock winner.

5 - Old Homestead: Has yet to be headed at any point in three outings. Won first two starts at Delta Downs before proving himself a smart horse in the making when winning a stakes race at Keeneland. Makes plenty of interest at this level and shouldn’t be far away.

6 - Chasing Time: A two-time winner who then tried a couple of races on the Kentucky Derby trail. Found those too much and is likely to find this taxing back sprinting.

7 - Whelen Springs: Done all his racing at Oaklawn Park and won his last three starts, namely in a maiden special weight and a pair of stakes events.Is in great heart at present but isn’t weighted to confirm form with Cogburn who he beat just a neck last time.

8 - Alottahope: Has won three times to date, including an allowance on a sloppy track at Laurel last time. Significant improvement on form required in this company.

9 - Little Vic: Stepped up on reappearance when drawing clear to land an allowance contest over this distance at Monmouth with a career-best speed figure just less than two weeks ago. The quick turnaround suggests his barn are confident of another big run.

A trappy contest in all truth, but it may well pay to side with the improvers who have fewer miles on the clock. Step forward Old Homestead who can take his unbeaten run to four at the expense of Cogburn. Little Vic also shouldn’t be far away.

Race 13 – Preakness (Gr 1)

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1 - Simplification: A cozy winner of the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park but faded into third when favorite for the Florida Derby there next time. Benefited from being held up in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, staying on late and finishing 3½ lengths fourth behind Rich Strike. Should be in the mix.

2 - Creative Minister: Opened his account at the second time of asking in a maiden special weight on a sloppy track at Keeneland in April. Followed up in an allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. Takes a big step up in grade but is in good hands.

3 - Fenwick: Formerly with Steve Asmussen, won a maiden special weight Tampa Bay in March on sole start for David Fisher. Presumably wasn’t right in the Blue Grass at Keeneland last time. Will need plenty more to figure.

4 - Secret Oath: Made massive strides over the winter, completing a hat-trick by an aggregate of 23 lengths at Oaklawn Park.Had a torrid time early on against the boys when third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby there in April. Quickly back on track when landing the Kentucky Oaks by 2 lengths from Nest last time. Luis Saez keeps the ride and she is also in receipt of the 5-Ib fillies allowance.

5 - Early Voting: Has made considerable steps forward on the speed figures with each start, winning a maiden special weight and then the Withers both at Gulfstream Park, dominating the latter from the front. Caught close home by Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial there last time. Skipped the ‘Derby specifically for this and is a major player.

6 - Happy Jack: Highly tried but well beaten since winning a maiden special weight at Santa Anita on debut. Blinkers are back on but this looks another step too far.

7 - Armagnac: Hasn’t been up to graded company on the two occasions he’s tried. Left Bob Baffert and won on first start for this barn in an allowance optional claimer at Santa Anita earlier this month. Stepped up on his career figures there, but only looks to be playing for minor money.

8 - Epicenter: Won the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds earlier this year in the style of a top-class colt and was sent off favorite for the Kentucky Derby. Was run down late on by Rich Strike but was arguably the best horse on the day given he was ridden a bit closer towards the early break-neck pace than the other principals.Should put up a bold bid if the race hasn’t left too much of a mark.

9 - Skippylongstocking: Recorded two wins at Gulfstream Park, including an allowance optional claimer from off a strong pact in March. Finished 3 1/2 lengths behind Early Voting when third at Wood Memorial at Aqueduct last time. Likely to find a couple too good.

This looks a good renewal with plenty to like about the principals. The tentative vote goes to Kentucky Oaks heroine Secret Oath, who’s having another crack against the boys at this level, receives weight all round and her trainer knows what it takes to win this race. Epicenter may once again have to settle for second in a Triple Crown race, whilst it would be folly to write off the unexposed Early Voting.

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