By US Racing Team
Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage will face seven new rivals in the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, the first time in more than 50 years only one horse from the Derby is moving on to the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Mage, the Derby winner at 15-1 odds, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite and will leave from the No. 3 post with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard.
The only Preakness winner in the past 30 years to break from the No. 3 post was California Chrome in 2014. The eight-horse field is one of the smaller fields in the 148-year history of the race but may bode well for Mage.
There were eight-horse Preakness fields in 2015 and 2018 when American Pharoah and Justify, respectively, won the race enroute to their Triple Crown sweeps.
Lexington (G3) winner First Mission is the second choice at 5-2, leaving from post 8 with Luis Saez aboard for trainer Chad Brown.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert is back in a Triple Crown race for the first time since the 2021 Preakness with National Treasure, the 4-1 third choice leaving from the No. 1 post with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the irons.
The rest of the field, with post position, jockey, and odds, is: Chase the Chaos (post 2, Sheldon Russell, 50-1); Coffeewithchris (post 4, Jaime Rodriguez, 20-1); Red Route One (post 5, Joel Rosario, 10-1); Perform (post 6, Feargal Lynch, 15-1); and Blazing Sevens (post 7, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 6-1).
As for drawing the 3 post, assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado, Jr., said, “It doesn’t make any difference. We can’t think too much about the things we can’t control. “I think everybody has a fair amount of time to get their position. It’s an eight-horse field. All eight will have a shot to win the race, which is what you want.”
The No. 6 post has produced 17 Preakness winners. Perform, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, is a supplemental entry that boosted the purse by $150,000 to $1.65 million.
Mage seems to be in fine form coming into the race, having arrived in Baltimore over the weekend from Churchill Downs. He galloped around the Pimlico strip Monday (May 15) morning and all signals are pointing to another strong effort. A win the 1 3-16-mile Preakness would set up Mage for a Triple Crown chance in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 10.
Since the spacing of the Triple Crown races from the Preakness two weeks after the Derby and the Belmont three weeks after the Preakness in 1969, this is the first time only one horse who ran in the Kentucky Derby is running back in the Preakness.
“It didn’t cross my mind. I’ve really been focused as much as possible on our horse. I was more concerned with: did he ship well? How’d he walk on Sunday? How’s he taking to the track? How are his energy levels? Who he faces is the last thing on my mind,” co-owner Ramiro Restrepo said. “If I start worrying about all these extra things, I’ll go mad. I’ll have no hair left to lose. So, I try to focus on what we have. He’s a handy horse. And we have one of the best in the game on top of him.”
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen was planning on two Preakness runners but withdrew fourth-place Derby finisher Disarm from consideration. He’ll send out Red Route One looking for his third Preakness win and hoping to end a two-year run of runner-up finishers, with Epicenter in 2022 and Midnight Bourbon in 2021.
Mage has raced against some of these rivals prior to the Derby. When the son of Good Magic won his career debut on Jan. 28, he defeated Perform, who ran fourth but has won two in a row since. In the Fountain of Youth (G2) on March 4, Mage ran fourth while Blazing Sevens finished eighth.
Like most trainers, Gustavo Delgado, Sr. and his son Gustavo Jr. would prefer more time between races.
“It’s the Triple Crown. It’s the way it’s been set up. We have to beat everybody if we want to win the race regardless if they’re fresh or not,’’ the younger Delgado said.
Forte, the likely Derby favorite scratched the morning of the race due to a hoof bruise, is not eligible for the Preakness. The colt is on the 14-day veterinarian’s list because of the injury.
Baffert, suspended for two years by Churchill Downs after Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Derby but tested positive for a medication violation and was disqualified, is seeking a record eighth Preakness victory. National Treasure comes into the race after a fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 8 with Tim Yakteen as the trainer.
“Bob will give Johnny the instructions. As long as we lead him over there in good health; it’s not like drawing the one-hole at Churchill,” Baffert assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said. “It’s a big difference.”
|1||National Treasure||4-1||John Velazquez||Steven M. Asmussen|
|2||Chase The Chaos||50-1||Sheldon Russell||Ed Moger Jr.|
|3||Mage||8-5||Javier Castellano||Gustavo Delgado|
|4||Coffeewithchris||20-1||Jaime Rodriguez||John E. Salzman Jr.|
|5||Red Route One||10-1||Joel Rosario||Steven M. Asmussen|
|6||Perform||15-1||Feargal Lynch||Claude R. McGaughey III|
|7||Blazing Sevens||6-1||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Chad C. Brown|
|8||First Mission||5-2||Luis Saez||Brad H. Cox|
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.