It’s Official: Derby Winner Mystik Dan is Preakness-Bound

What a difference a week makes, particularly when it comes to Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystic Dan.

Kentucky Derby 150 winner Mystik Dan (right). Coady Photo

“All systems go,” McPeek said Saturday morning. “He’ll ship out in the morning (Sunday, May 12).”

A chance to set up a shot at the Triple Crown remains in play as trainer Ken McPeek confirmed Saturday (May 11) what most racing fans hoped for – Mystic Dan will run in the $2 million Preakness (G1) next Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.

The 1 3/16-mile Preakness follows the Derby as the second leg of the Triple Crown. A win by Mystic Dan would set him up for the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 8 with a chance to become the 14th Triple Crown champion.

Mystic Dan had a routine 1 ½-mile gallop at Churchill Downs under retired jockey Robby Albarado, who will be part of the Derby winner’s travel team to Baltimore. Brian Hernandez, Jr. will again ride Mystic Dan as he did in the Derby.

McPeek was cautious all week, waiting and watching for Mystic Dan to give him the right signs he was ready to run again after a quick, two-week turnaround.

Kenny McPeek

The son of Goldencents underwent an endoscopic exam and had bloodwork analyzed to ensure all was normal. He’s been galloping the past few days following a couple of days off after his thrilling nose victory over Sierra Leone in the 150th Kentucky Derby.

“The horse is doing fantastic,” McPeek said. “I’ve already kind of arranged the logistics of it all.”

Waiting for the Derby winner will be Muth, who defeated third-place finishing Mystic Dan in the Arkansas Derby (G1) on March 30. It was Mystic Dan’s first start in seven weeks after his easy win in the Southwest Stakes (G3) in the slop.

“He was ready for the Arkansas Derby,” McPeek said. “I’m not going to use that as an excuse. But he did get turned sideways in that turn, and Brian felt that cost him three or four lengths. But the horse fought back, fortunately…. I’m optimistic we can give (Muth) another run.”

Albarado, who teamed with McPeek to win the 2020 Preakness with the filly Swiss Skydiver, said. “He felt great. I thought every day would be a progression for him, and it is. He’s coming back to himself. He’s starting to get back into that race mode right now.”

Field Taking Shape

The field is shaping up as 10 or 11 3-year olds, with one other Derby runner confirmed in Just Steel (17th) and another, Catching Freedom (4th), under consideration.

Muth and Santa Anita Derby (G1) runner-up Imagination are trained by eight-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert, banned for a third year by Churchill Downs, Inc. from competing in the Derby. Those two could be the early favorites.

Other Preakness Stakes contenders include Seize the Grey, Mugatu, Copper Tax, Informed Patriot, Uncle Heavy, and Tuscan Gold.

Muth and Imagination had their final workouts on May 10 at Santa Anita, working together and covering 6 furlongs in 1:11.80.

The Triple Crown season will end on a historic note no matter what takes place in the Belmont. The race will be run for the first time at Saratoga Race Course and at the Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles rather than the traditional 1 ½ miles, which earned the race the name “Test of the Champion.’’ Belmont Park is undergoing a major rebuilding.

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