History indicates the best way to predict the solid contenders in the Preakness Stakes is to take a look at the horses who were close in midstretch in the Kentucky Derby.

At the eighth pole, or middle of the stretch, at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, Ferdinand, Broad Brush and Badger Land were within 1 1/2 lengths of each other.

Ferdinand, who led by a length at that point, extended his margin to more than two lengths at the wire. Broad Brush fell back two lengths, and Badger Land lost three lengths in the final eighth of a mile.

I believe those three horses will be close together at the Preakness finish, and I also believe Ferdinand will win the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Watching those three colts train at Pimlico this week, the impression has been clear that Badger Land is in top condition and is going to be tough Saturday.

Ferdinand, whose conformation is similar to a not fully matured Affirmed -- the Triple Crown winner of 1978 -- has been determined in his workouts, suggesting that the Derby did not drain his strength.

If there is an upset in the race, an unlikely event, it most probably would involve Miracle Wood, a colt who has not shown the speed of the top three, but should benefit from the ride of Donald Miller, who will save ground from the outset.