The field for the 146th Preakness (G1) underwent several changes on Tuesday with beaten Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality declared out of the race, while Concert Tour returns to the Triple Crown scene to take on his stablemate and Derby winner Medina Spirit.
King Fury, scratched from the Derby with a fever, is no longer under consideration for the May 15 Preakness at Pimlico Race Course, and Keepmeinmind, seventh in the Derby, is now a Preakness possible, his trainer Robertino Diodoro said.
As for Concert Tour, Baffert told Pimlico’s racing office, “We figure, this is the race. The Derby is run. A lot of horses, they went through a lot to get here. He’s sort of a fresh horse. In the Rebel, he looked so good.”
Concert Tour, a top Derby contender after winning the Rebel (G2) on March 13, ran a disappointing third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 3 as the 3-10 favorite (behind Super Stock and Caddo River) and did not run at Churchill Downs. A son of Street Sense, Concert Tour is owned by Gary and Mary West.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Concert Tour, while Medina Spirit will again be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Baffert said he didn’t believe Concert Tour was ready for the 1 ¼-mile Derby off his Arkansas Derby defeat, the first loss of his four-race career.
“We’re getting to know these horses,” said Baffert. “He’s lightly raced, but we’ve learned a lot about him. So, we make adjustments and here we are.”
After Concert Tour posted a 5-furlong work in 1:00.60 on Sunday (May 2) at Churchill Downs, Baffert discussed the colt’s status with Gary West.
“He asked me, ‘Did he work well enough to run in the Preakness?’” Baffert said. “I said, ‘Yes, he did. He worked well.’ … That’s why they are in the business and that’s why they want to try for it.”
Not a surprise, but it’s official that Essential Quality, fourth in the Derby as the 5-2 favorite, is out of the Preakness, said trainer Brad Cox. Decisions are pending regarding his two other Preakness possibles – Derby runner-up Mandaloun and Caddo River, who did not run in the Derby. He breezed 4 furlongs in 48.80 seconds on Monday at Churchill Downs.
Midnight Bourbon, sixth in the Derby, remains a possible.
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.