Can Authentic repeat Kentucky Derby magic?

The last leg of the COVID-19-revamped Triple Crown series will be run at a spectator-less Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday with the 145th running of the Preakness Stakes. While there won’t be a Triple Crown winner this year, there is still great anticipation for the race.

Authentic (9-5), the No. 9 horse in this race, proved a lot of doubters wrong his last time out, winning the Kentucky Derby. Many thought the 1-¼-mile distance would prove too daunting for the Bob Baffert-trained frontrunner. But he’s surely since put any distance concerns to bed after fending off prohibitive favorite Tiz The Law down the stretch in the Derby. Unfortunately, racing fans will have to wait for a Tiz The Law-Authentic rematch. With the Triple Crown no longer in play, Team Tiz the Law opted to skip the Preakness in favor of preparing for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7.

But that doesn’t mean Authentic will have an easy go at it on Saturday. Enter the No. 3 horse, Art Collector (5-2). Art Collector was slated to be a top contender in the Kentucky Derby, but was scratched just days before the race after a heel issue surfaced. The Thomas Drury Jr.-trained colt is a multi-talented runner, who in his four unbeaten starts this year has demonstrated the ability to win with blazing speed out of the gate, in addition to being capable of sitting slightly off the leaders and catching them down the stretch. Since recovering from the injury, Art Collector has put together a string of solid workouts and appears to be very live.

Outside of the two heavy favorites, the remainder of the field largely appears to be on equal footing. This puts a premium on handicapping. Specifically, determining who is a real contender to challenge the favorites and who is a pretender. With so many moderate-to-steep odds in play, knowing how to bet is equally as important as knowing who to bet. Two runners to keep an eye on as viable upset picks to win — and certainly in the mix for exotic wagering — are the lone filly in the race, No. 4 Swiss Skydiver (6-1), and No. 5 Thousand Words (6-1).

Authentic did not compete in the Belmont Stakes. As a result, he now has a chance to become one of the great Triple Crown what-ifs in racing history with a win on Saturday. But in a field of unknowns, dynamic running styles, and likely resistance to secure an early lead, Authentic will have to follow-up his impressive Kentucky Derby display with another near-perfect outing to secure the win at the Preakness.

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