What to Know About the 146th Preakness Stakes

BALTIMORE — Last 12 months, Swiss Skydiver became the sixth filly to win the Preakness Stakes, which was held in October due to the coronavirus pandemic, however the 146th working of the race on Saturday might be blanketed with much more intrigue.

Medina Spirit, who gained the Kentucky Derby on May 1 to give the coach Bob Baffert a document seventh victory in the race, was put in as the 9-5 morning-line favourite, after almost being excluded from the race when it was disclosed that he had failed a drug test after the Derby.

Medina Spirit examined constructive for betamethasone, a corticosteroid, however officers in Kentucky are awaiting outcomes from a second pattern — a course of that might take weeks — to decide if his Derby victory might be overturned. It units up an ungainly state of affairs if Medina Spirit had been to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Preakness organizers selected Tuesday that Medina Spirit may run after Baffert and his lawyer agreed to expanded testing and monitoring of all of Baffert’s horses racing at Pimlico Race Course over the weekend. Baffert, saying he didn’t need to be a distraction, will stay in California and let his longtime assistant Jimmy Barnes saddle his horses.

Coverage of the Preakness will start Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern time on NBC Sports Network and can proceed on NBC at 5 p.m. Post time is 6:47 p.m. Here’s what else you want to learn about the 146th working of the race, which could have a area of 10:

The pandemic wreaked havoc on the Triple Crown schedule in 2020. The Belmont Stakes, usually the ultimate leg of the Triple Crown, was held in New York in June, the Derby in September, and the Preakness, often the second of the three races, got here in October. None of them admitted spectators. This 12 months, all have returned to their common spots on the calendar.

Attendance for the Preakness might be capped at 10,000 followers, a determine that features these in the usually raucous infield. That is rather less than 10 p.c of the observe’s typical capability. (The introduced crowd for the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on April 30 was 41,472, and for the Derby the subsequent day it was 51,838, shut to a 3rd of the venue’s typical capability.)

The Pimlico grounds might be divided into distinct spectator sections, and no crossover might be allowed. Temperature checks and questionnaires to assess coronavirus publicity might be administered at the gates, and social distancing signage, plexiglass limitations and hand sanitizing stations might be positioned round the observe. Masks might be required when not consuming and consuming, and “Covid compliance officers” will remind friends to adhere to the insurance policies.

The world is aware of about Medina Spirit by now: the gritty Derby victory, the failed drug take a look at and an extended wait to see if the colt could be disqualified. But what about Baffert’s different horse in the Preakness?

Concert Tour was undefeated in three races heading into the Arkansas Derby on April 10. But after he completed a distant third in that race, Baffert determined to have him skip the Derby and give attention to the Preakness. The Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who has gained the Preakness twice, picks up the mount.

Barnes, the Baffert assistant who’s in Baltimore, stated he was happy with Concert Tour’s progress.

“He was a little on the light side after the Arkansas Derby, and Bob and Gary West opted to pass on the Derby and run a fresh horse in the Preakness,” Barnes stated of the colt’s homeowners. “We’ve basically seen everything you’d want to see. No hiccups at all. His coat is beautiful. He’s eating well. He should be ready for Saturday.”

The Derby controversy apart, a victory from both Medina Spirit or Concert Tour would give Baffert a document eight victories in the Preakness. He is at present tied with Robert Wyndham Walden, who saddled seven Preakness winners between 1875 and 1888.

If Smith, 55, wins aboard Concert Tour, he’ll break his personal document (set at age 52 in 2018 aboard Justify) as the oldest jockey to win the race. John Velazquez, Medina Spirit’s rider, is 49.

Besides Medina Spirit, two different Derby horses — Midnight Bourbon and Keepmeinmind — are racing in the Preakness. In the final 20 years, horses coming from the Derby have gained the Preakness 16 instances.

Midnight Bourbon, who received crushed popping out the gate and ran broad round each turns to end sixth in the Derby, has completed in the prime three in seven of eight begins. Also working in the colt’s favor: Smith was changed with the hottest rider in North America, Irad Ortiz Jr.

The coach Steve Asmussen, who has gained the Preakness twice, stated Midnight Bourbon had moved “over the racetrack beautifully” since arriving at Pimlico.

The Derby’s seventh-place finisher, Keepmeinmind, is right here, too. His coach, Robertino Diodoro, has entered the Preakness for the first time. So has the colt’s rider, David Cohen, who believes Keepmeinmind’s Derby efficiency was a springboard to one thing larger.

“We were extremely happy with his performance in the Derby,” Cohen stated. “I think he finally got back to his 2-year-old form as far as relaxing early on and coming and finishing up with a nice, strong finish that we know he likes to do.”

Besides Concert Tour, the different so-called new shooters are D. Wayne Lukas’s document 45th Preakness starter, Ram; the third-place finisher at the Blue Grass Stakes, Rombauer; the Japanese-based France Go de Ina; the Todd Pletcher-trained Unbridled Honor; and the Chad Brown-trained Risk Taking and Crowded Trade.

Brown, who gained his first Preakness in 2017 with Cloud Computing, has entered the two calmly raced however gifted colts in hopes of profitable his second. Like Cloud Computing, each are owned by Klaravich Stables.

Risk Taking, who has gained two of 5 profession begins, does his greatest working late. He completed a disappointing seventh in the Wood Memorial in April after going off as the 2-1 favourite. Crowded Trade ran third in the Wood.

“Crowded Trade ran a really good race in only his third start,” Brown stated. “He did hang a little bit in the lane, but he made up a lot of ground after breaking bad. Risk Taking was quite a disappointment that day. He was coming into the race in excellent form, and his numbers were heading the right way. He just didn’t fire.”

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