2024 Preakness Stakes predictions, expert picks by Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica

“Bear Bets” are real wagers that Chris “The Bear” Fallica is actually making.

Every spring, sports fans shift their attention to the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown for the running of the Preakness Stakes.

There’s something incredibly special about this weekend, as everyone watches to see if the Kentucky Derby winner can win this race on its quest to capture all three jewels of the Crown.

We all know that when it comes to horse racing — particularly when it comes to laying a few wagers — there’s fun to be had by all.

So, let’s jump into the action.

(Disclaimer: To keep it simple, I’ll lead with my picks first).

My Betting Card

1. Mugatu (20-1)

Split the field in the Blue Grass at 180-1, which on paper might have been a bit short. It’s only a nine-horse field and considering he’ll be nowhere near the lead, maybe he can pass some tiring horses for fourth or third. But he’s mainly a vanity entry for the connections to say they had a horse run in one of the Triple Crown races.

2. Uncle Heavy (20-1)

The Pennsylvania-bred got up late at 9-1 to win a bad edition of the Withers by a nose, then was soundly beaten in the Wood after a horrible post draw. On paper, he looks better than the other 20-1 shot to his inside, Mugatu, but his ceiling looks to be the same — third or fourth as part of the “all” button in your tris and supers.

3. Catching Freedom (6-1)

Was a solid fourth in the Derby, which probably was his ceiling in the race given his speed figures going into the race, despite being tabbed on top by many. There’s good and bad here. The good — the field isn’t as big or as deep as the 20-horse stampede in Louisville. The bad — there really doesn’t appear to be much of a pace building here, as the Baffert runner appears to be the only committed speed. But, with the scratch of Muth, I’d expect someone presses Imagination on the front end, so he doesn’t get an easy lead. However, like I did in Louisville, I’ll use him underneath in the tris, but I think a win is just out of reach given the lack of speed in here to set up his closing kick.

4. Muth (8-5)


5. Mystik Dan (5-2)

I’m not as concerned with the two-week layoff as the only time he ran two weeks back was between his second and third races — his maiden win and first against winners — so it’s not surprising he ran a dud that day. What matters more is that he’s the only horse to hit 100 on the Beyer speed figures and he ran about as short a distance as one possibly could in the Derby. With the scratch of Muth, I’d think he would be close to Imagination to ensure he doesn’t get away. He’ll go favored now, so the price will not be what it was with Muth in the race, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Mystik Dan wins right back, and we’re looking at a Triple Crown chance in three weeks at Saratoga where FOX Sports will have coverage of the Belmont Stakes.

6. Seize the Grey (15-1)

Give D. Wayne Lukas credit: He isn’t afraid to run them in the big spots, even if they are likely overmatched. After all, it is horse racing. This one got a dream stalking setup after a 44 2/5 half mile in the Pat Day Mile to win at close to 10-1. Winning here, however, is an even bigger task. I’ll use underneath in case he does pass some horses late to sneak into the trifecta at a nice number.

7. Just Steel (15-1)

There’s no sugarcoating it, he did not get a good ride at all in the Derby, and sometimes that just happens. But he should have been nowhere near the lead in a race where all of the pace factors backed up. Would I be surprised if this one ran a big race, as it seems like he’s done every other race lately? No, I would not, especially with a very positive jockey switch back to Joel Rosario. Could he be, again, a surprise pace factor? Possibly, but I think his best running is done from off the pace. We’ll see what Rosario decides to do at the break with Muth now out of the race. That being said, he’s been beaten by the better horses in the race on multiple occasions, and he hasn’t won past 6.5 furlongs. I’ll defensively use on top in some pick fours and exotics, as “The Coach” has been known to win a Triple Crown race or two at a huge number and his chances certainly have moved up with the scratch of the ML favorite.

8. Tuscan Gold (8-1)

This is the newcomer to the Triple Crown trail that really interests me. He started his career in the same maiden race as Sierra Leone and was only beaten three lengths by the horse who is now likely the best 3 YO in the country. He then aired in a short field at GP and in his first start against winners in the Louisiana Derby, was beaten less than two lengths by Catching Freedom despite breaking from a disadvantageous post. I’m a huge fan of horses in their second start against winners, as it is a very nice spot to make a big step forward. Brown nearly pulled off a Preakness win in similar fashion last year with Blazing Sevens at 5-1, and did in both 2017 and 2022 with Cloud Computing and Early Voting at 6-1 and 13-1. I guess my biggest concern would be him being shut off by Imagination at the start, but if he doesn’t, he should be able to pick his spot right on or off the lead and have a huge chance to win the race at around 5-1 or so.

9. Imagination (6-1)

I’m assuming he will be the early leader with someone — Mystik Dan? Tuscan Gold? Just Steel? — sitting just off him. I just don’t know how good he is though. He won a sub-par four-horse San Felipe at odds-on by a head and then was beaten by Stronghold — who finished seventh in Louisville — in the Santa Anita Derby. He’s got speed — and that’s always dangerous, especially in a field which doesn’t have a ton — but that has been the case his previous two races and he struggled to get the job done. He’ll be used underneath in my exotics, but that’s about it.

Chris “The Bear” Fallica has covered sports for nearly three decades. While college football has been his focus, he also enjoys the NFL, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, MLB, NHL and Horse Racing, with an “occasional” wager on such events. Chris recently won the inaugural Circa Football Invitational and finished in the Top 10 of the Golden Nugget Football Contest. He’s a multiple-time qualifier for the NHC Handicapping Championship. Remember, “The less you bet, the more you lose when you win!” Follow him on Twitter @chrisfallica.

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