Was the 2023 Preakness Stakes a Strong Race?

National Treasure beats Blazing Sevens in Preakness (Photo: Maryland Jockey Club)

By Jarrod Horak

Only one Kentucky Derby 2023 participant competed in the Preakness and Mage was that runner. The Derby hero faced six rivals in Baltimore and Blazing Sevens was the only other graded winner. 

The Preakness sure did not look like a strong race on paper and it got even weaker after the defection of Lexington (G3) hero First Mission. Two horses from the second jewel of the Triple Crown ran back in the Belmont and neither hit the board, and another is entered on July 1. If any of the Preakness runners make a dent in this division later this year, I would expect runner-up Blazing Sevens or show finisher Mage to do the bulk of the damage.  

Click here for Jarrod’s Top Ranked 3-Year-Olds

National Treasure set the tempo from the inside post at Pimlico and the race flow was certainly in his favor. Blazing Sevens came after him but Bob Baffert’s Quality Road colt turned that rival away and scored by a head under John Velazquez. Chad Brown’s runner-up ran a winning race and was clear of beaten favorite Mage. The latter was harmed by the slow fractions and was best of the rest in third. Red Route One, Chas the Chaos, supplemental nominee Perform and local hope Coffeewithchris also ran. 

National Treasure was one of two Preakness horses to run back in the Belmont Stakes. He set the pace in the latter event but had to go faster to maintain his early advantage at 1 1/2 miles and ultimately could not see out the distance. He returned to California and got back on the worktab in a half-mile move in 48.80 at Santa Anita on June 25. 

Blazing Sevens, the 2022 Champagne (G1) hero, has not won since that event but appears to be back on his game after stalking wide and finishing a clear second in Baltimore. He is currently training at Saratoga, most recently logging five panels in 1:00.79 on June 25. He will probably target one or more summer races like the Haskell (G1), Jim Dandy (G2), and Travers (G1).  

Kentucky Derby winner Mage needs pace help in his upcoming starts. He is a quality closer when the race shape is in his favor. His first workout since the Preakness was a very easy five furlong move on June 23. The Grade 1 Travers is his main summer goal.  

Red Route One was an even fourth in the Preakness and was no threat in the Belmont Stakes. He is always at the mercy of the pace. He does not win often and is a cut or two below the top runners in the 3-year-old male division. He has no published works since the final leg of the Triple Crown.  

Chase the Chaos won the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields earlier this winter and that was a Win and You’re In for the Preakness. He was unplaced in the San Felipe (G2) and California Derby, and was a non-threatening fifth in Baltimore. He has no workouts since the Pimlico showcase.

Perform clearly improved over a route of ground in March and April. He was not ready for prime time in the Preakness and it remains to be seen where he actually fits in this division from a class standpoint. He was visually impressive in the listed Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park in the spring and they might want to look at lesser stakes races like that one in the near future. He had slow breezes at Belmont Park on June 3 and June 10, and fired a half-mile bullet on June 17. That was his last published workout. 

Coffeewithchris is entered in the Concern Stakes at Laurel Park on July 1 and he is the 5-2 third choice in the 5-horse field.