2024 Preakness Contenders: IMAGINATION

The 149th Preakness (G1) is this Saturday, May 18, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The 1 3/16-mile race is the second leg of the Triple Crown. usracing.com is publishing profiles of the contenders.

2024 Preakness Stakes Contender IMAGINATION


Discard this other Bob Baffert entry at your own risk: The Santa Anita Derby runner-up (by a neck to Stronghold) seems to be getting better with each passing day.

At least that’s the way Baffert views it, and, since he’s looking to extend his Preakness wins record to nine on Saturday, it makes sense to believe him.

“I really think he’s [Imagination] improving, where Muth [Baffert’s other entry and the favorite] just needs to stay where he is at,’’ the Hall of Fame trainer said. “Every race he’s improving. And I think distance is not going to be a problem for him … The trip’s going to make a big difference.”

The son of Into Mischief has never finished worse than second in his six starts [he won the San Felipe Stakes] and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori for the third straight time.

Imagination likes to run at a target, so watch for him to be up behind the leader in the Preakness, one sixteenth-of-a-mile longer than the Santa Anita Derby.

“We would like to have won it [the Santa Anita Derby],’’ Baffert said. “But I liked the fact that he gutted it out pretty well. He’s still learning, we’re learning more about him. Frankie’s learning more about him.”

While Muth comes into the race off his victory over Derby winner Mystik Dan in the Arkansas Derby and is rated among the top 3-year-olds, Baffert is not bringing Improbable along as company.

“You need good horses and I bring good horses,” Baffert said. “I am not going to fly cross-country with a 50-1 shot.”

2024 Preakness Stakes Contenders, Odds, and Post Positions: Imagination

Betting advice: Should be in win contention until the end, so it’s a good idea to keep him in your exotics.

Post position: 9

Odds: 6/1

Jockey: Frankie Dettori

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Dianne Bashor, Robert Masterson, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Tom Ryan

Career record: 6-2-4-0

Career earnings: $406,800

Most recent race: Santa Anita Derby, April 6 (2nd)

Top Equibase speed figure: 104

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Magical Feeling, by Empire Maker

Color: Bay

Running style: Up close

Notes: Imagination was a $1.05 million purchase at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He broke his maiden at third asking, ran second in an allowance, then won the San Felipe by a neck before the Santa Anita Derby … Imagination worked in company with Mutch on Friday (May 10) at Santan Anita, covering 6 furlongs in 1:11.80.

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