Preakness Draw: Muth Favored over Derby Winner Mystik Dan

Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan is unlikely to be the favorite in the $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico on Saturday, marking the first time since 2012 that has occurred in racing’s second leg of the Triple Crown.

Mystik Dan galloping at Pimlico.

Field of nine set for Saturday’s second leg of Triple Crown

Mystik Dan was made the 5-2 second choice on the morning line Monday, with eight-time Preakness winning trainer Bob Baffert’s Muth the 8-5 favorite in a field of nine 3-year-olds entered for the 1 3/16-mile test.

A victory by Mystik Dan would set up a Triple Crown attempt in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 8 – being run at Saratoga Race Course for the first time while Belmont Park is being rebuilt. The last Triple Crown winner was Baffert-trained Justify in 2018. The trainer also won last year’s Preakness with National Treasure.

“Muth was a pretty easy morning-line favorite to come up,’’ explained Brain Nadeau, the Maryland Jockey Club linemaker. “First, he comfortably beat Mystik Dan in the Arkansas Derby. Second, with all the success Bob Baffert has had in the Preakness and the name recognition he brings as well, it all adds up to Muth being a pretty solid favorite.

“And lastly, Mystik Dan was 18-1 in the Derby, and when a longshot wins, sometimes the betting public is a bit slow to come around or believe.”

Notable Preakness Contenders: A Look Beyond the Favorites

The last Derby winner to run in the Preakness without the role as favorite was I’ll Have Another, who was the second choice behind Bodemeister but won and then scratched the morning of the Belmont Stakes.

Muth won the Arkansas Derby (G1) on March 30, with Mystik Dan running third, 6 ½ lengths back, and Just Steel second.

Mystik Dan, with Brian Hernandez, Jr., aboard, drew post 5, and will be outside Muth, who drew post 4 and will be ridden by Juan Hernandez.

Baffert also sends out Santa Anita Derby (G1) runner-up Imagination, who drew post 9 and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, who is making his Preakness debut.

Two other Derby runners are in the field, Catching Freedom (fourth) for trainer Brad Cox and Just Steel (17th) for six-time Preakness winner D. Wayne Lukas, who also sends out Pat Day Mile (G2) winner Seize the Grey.

Catching Freedom, who won the Louisiana Derby (G2), ran a solid Derby and was just behind the three-horse photo finish. Just Steel had a rugged trip from the start, and Lukas decided to put a line through the race.

Ken McPeek, who trains Mystik Dan, was cautious this past week and did not confirm his first Derby winner would run in the Preakness after such a short turnaround until Saturday (May 11).

Mystik Dan was given a perfect rail-skimming ride over the 1 ¼-mile Derby distance, and now will be out to prove himself again.

“I thought it [the post] was perfect. Right next to Muth,’’ McPeek said. “Hopefully, we leave there clean and get a little better trip than we did last time [in the Arkansas Derby]. I think it’s a very level playing field. I think we could stalk right behind [Muth] or be off of him. We will leave that up to Brian. He knows the horse really well. We are excited to be part of another historic race.”

Baffert-trained horses were ineligible for the Derby due to the trainer’s suspension by Churchill Downs, Inc., after his 2021 Derby first-place finisher Median Spirit was disqualified following a positive test for an overage of a race day medication.

The field for the $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1), from the rail out, with jockey, trainer, odds:

1 Mugatu (Joe Bravo, Jeff Engler), 20-1

2 Uncle Heavy (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Robert Reid, Jr.), 20-1

3 Catching Freedom (Flavien Prat, Brad Cox), 6-1

4 Muth (Juan Hernandez, Bob Baffert), 8-5

5 Mystik Dan (Brian Hernandez, Jr., Ken McPeek), 5-2

6 Seize the Grey (Jaime Torres, D. Wayne Lukas), 15-1

7 Just Steel (Joel Rosario, D. Wayne Lukas), 15-1

8 Tuscan Gold (Tyler Gaffalione, Chad Brown), 8-1

9 Imagination (Frankie Dettori, Bob Baffert), 6-1

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