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BALTIMORE – Trainer Tommy Drury and Art Collector get another chance at Triple Crown glory this weekend.
Each time Bob Baffert won a big race over the past two decades with assistant Jimmy Barnes by his side, the two would share a moment and embrace.
Track announcer Dave Rodman emceed with a mask covering his face, while stakes coordinator Coley Blind and racing secretary Jillian Tullock pulled the pills to determine the post positions.
Unencumbered by a jockey and suddenly free to run wherever he darn pleased, Bodexpress decided to take a shot at winning the Preakness. Taking one of the most memorable trips in the 149-year history of Pimlico Race Course, Bodexpress followed the leaders without a rider on board and at one point appeared to be a contender in the 13-horse race. He was knocked down to last because, well, a horse can’t be declared a winner without a rider.
War of Will bounced back from a bumpy ride in the Kentucky Derby to win the Preakness Stakes, holding off a field that included a riderless horse that threw his jockey out of the gate and still finished the race.
Long shot Market King has been cleared to race in the Preakness. Market King had been on the veterinarian’s list in Kentucky after being scratched before the Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 4. He was entered in the Preakness on the condition that he’d only run if he passed the adequate tests to be removed from the list, and those results came back satisfactory.
War of Will came out of a rough race at the Kentucky Derby unscathed, surprisingly frisky and primed to show what he can do in the Preakness.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is seeking a record-setting eighth Preakness victory with 5-2 morning line favorite Improbable, who will start from the No. 4 post in a field of 13 horses. For the first time since 1951, the Preakness will not include the four horses that crossed the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby.
Improbable and War of Will are among the horses to watch in the Preakness without the Kentucky Derby winner in the field. Trainer Bob Baffert’s Improbable was the favorite going into the Derby and the early favorite to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Warrior’s Charge is the biggest wild card in the Preakness because he has never faced this quality of competition before.
The future of Pimlico Race Course has become a tug of war between Baltimore officials and the track owners. At the center of the battle is the Preakness. City officials want to keep the second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico. The Stronach Group believes racing in Maryland would thrive far better at nearby Laurel Park. While many trainers are fine with keeping the Preakness at Pimlico, it’s going to take more than $420 million to renovate the crumbling facility.
Improbable will have Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith aboard if the colt runs in the Preakness on May 18. Trainer Bob Baffert said he was making the switch from Irad Ortiz Jr. because “Mike and I have a little luck together.” Baffert and Smith teamed with Justify to win the Triple Crown last year. Ortiz rode Improbable to a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. The colt was moved up to fourth following Maximum Security’s disqualification.
Kentucky Derby winner Country House won’t run in the Preakness because of illness. Trainer Bill Mott says the long shot winner of horse racing’s biggest event is no longer being considered for the second jewel of the Triple Crown. After the horse started coughing, blood work showed he was harboring some sort of virus. Country House’s absence at the Preakness means there won’t be a third Triple Crown winner in five years. The 1 3/16-mile Preakness is May 18 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Justify emerged from the fog and sloshed his way to another impressive victory, holding off several hard-charging challengers to win the Preakness on Saturday and keep alive the chance for trainer Bob Baffert’s second Triple Crown champion in four years. On a sloppy track similar to the conditions in the Kentucky Derby, Justify improved to 5-0 and will go to the Belmont Stakes on June 9 looking to do the same thing American Pharoah did for Baffert in 2015.
Red Ruby pulled away from Coach Rocks on a sloppy track and cruised to victory by 4 3/4 lengths in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Coach Rocks, the morning-line favorite, led for much of the race before Paco Lopez guided Red Ruby in front before the final turn. The Grade 2, $250,000 race for 3-year-old fillies was run on a cold, rainy afternoon at Pimlico Race Course.
The Preakness looks like Justify’s race to lose as long as he runs to his usual form. Opposing trainers understand it’ll take Justify regressing from what he showed in the Kentucky Derby for any of the other seven horses to have a chance. A bruised heel, muddy track and a bad start are among the things that could derail the heavy favorite.
Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic and Quip are the top challengers to Justify in the Preakness. Justify looks like the horse to beat as the 1-2 morning line favorite and is a legitimate Triple Crown contender. The eight-horse field presents a different test for Justify from the Derby.
Half the horses in the eight-horse Preakness field have yet to experience the sensation of chasing Justify to the finish line. Perhaps one of the new shooters in Saturday’s race can find a way to leave the Kentucky Derby winner in his wake. Quip, Sporting Chance, Diamond King and Tenfold skipped the Derby to focus on earning a chunk of the $1.5 million Preakness purse.
Kentucky Derby winner Justify is getting acquainted with the track at Pimlico Race Course. He’ll attempt to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive Saturday in the Preakness. The track was soaked from a heavy morning shower. So trainer Bob Baffert took it easy for his undefeated chestnut colt. He’s also showing no signs that a heel bruise will be an issue.
Having the Preakness favorite has never bothered Bob Baffert before and it doesn’t bother him with Justify.
Pimlico Race Course is all gussied up again this week, ready to host the Preakness on a day that will enable the 148-year-old track to survive another year. Old Hilltop is showing its age, however, and it will cost more than a quarter-billion dollars to make it right. By 2020, there’s a chance the Preakness will head south within the state to newer, fresher Laurel Park.