Preakness Stakes: Derby Winner Mystik Dan Iffy; Muth, Imagination In

Could it be possible that none of the 20 horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby (G1) will compete in the Preakness Stakes (G1) in less than two weeks?

A year ago, only Derby winner Mage went on to the second leg of the Triple Crown, renewing the call to space out the traditional five-week timeframe of the Derby-Preakness-Belmont.

In 2022, Derby winner Rich Strike skipped the Preakness, and only three Derby horses ran in the race.

Let the speculation begin again.

Mystik Dan. Coady Photo.

Mystik Dan, who won Saturday’s 150th Derby after a thrilling three-horse photo finish, is not yet a definite for the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course on May 18.

Most, possibly all, Derby runners skipping Preakness

“We’re not committing,’’ he told Maryland race officials Sunday after accepting the invitation. “When I ran him back in two weeks (at Churchill Downs last November), it completely backfired. And we skipped the Rebel because it was too short as well. So, we’ll watch him over the next week, and probably decide then. It will be a last-minute decision. We’ll let him tell us.

“If I don’t think he’s right and ready, we’ll just wait for the Belmont.”

McPeek is enjoying the weekend of a lifetime as he and jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr., pulled off a rare Kentucky Oaks-Kentucky Derby double. After winning the Oaks on Friday with Thorpedo Anna, McPeek said he was considering running her against the boys in the Preakness. That’s now off the table; the Acorn (G1) on June 7 is likely next.

No Preakness: Sierra Leone, Forever Young, et al

 As for the rest of the Derby field moving on to 1 3/16-mile Preakness, here’s how things shape up as of Sunday: Most are out, including runner-up Sierra Leone and third-place finisher Forever Young.

Trainer Chad Brown said Sierra Leone, and Derby last-place finisher Just a Touch, are headed to Saratoga, with Sierra Leone being pointed to the Belmont Stakes (G1), being held at Saratoga this year.

The two Japan horses – Forever Young and fifth-place finisher T O Password are head back home.

Fierceness heads to Spa

Fierceness, a disappointing 15th as the Derby favorite, came out of the race without an issue, and his status will be evaluated by trainer Todd Pletcher, who rarely runs a horse back in the Preakness Stakes (unless he wins the Derby).

Also moving past the Preakness…

Other Derby runners declared out of the Preakness by their trainers include Catching Freedom, Resilience, Dornoch, Stronghold, Honor Marie, Track Phantom, Endlessly, West Saratoga, Domestic Product, Epic Ride, Society Man, Just Steel, Grand Mo the First, and Catalytic.

Who’s in Preakness?

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is in with a pair of top 3-year-olds in Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Muth and Santa Anita Derby (G1)  runner-up Imagination.

Baffert was banned for a third year from running horses at Churchill Downs after his 2021 Derby first-place finisher Medina Spirit was disqualified for a race day medication overage. His horses are eligible for the Preakness and Belmont.

Baffert won the Preakness last year with National Treasure to extend his record number of victories in the race to eight. Muth is the likely favorite, no matter who else runs.

Preakness possibles: Seize the Grey, Tuscan Gold, Informed Patriot, Copper Tax, Uncle Heavy

Seize the Grey. Coady Photo.

While D. Wayne Lukas’ Just Steel isn’t Preakness bound, the trainer with six Preakness wins is likely to send out Seize the Grey, who won the Pat Day Mile (G2) on the Derby undercard. He will be “strongly, strongly considered,’’ Lukas said.

Another possible is Brown’s Tuscan Gold, who ran third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) in his third career start.

“I’m going to take a look at that horse training up until the Peter Pan,” Brown said of Saturday’s Peter Pan (G3) at Aqueduct. “See how the race comes up, see where he draws, because it’s likely to be a big field, I’m hearing. Keep an eye on that Preakness, and sort of go from there.”

Informed Patriot, trained by Steve Asmussen, also is Preakness possible having earned an automatic berth into the race by winning the Bathhouse Row Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Also possible for the Preakness are Withers (G3) winner Uncle Heavy and Copper Tax, who earned an automatic spot with a win in the Federico Tesio at Laurel.

“It might thin the [Preakness] field out a little bit. We’ll see how it is in the next few days and see how things shake out,” Copper Tax trainer Gary Capuano said. “The door’s not closed yet. It actually opened up a little bit.

“Baffert is going to come with a couple real good horses, and he’ll be the factor in there, obviously. The Derby winner, he got a great trip. He put himself in a good position.’’

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