Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Kentucky Derby winner Authentic was installed Monday as the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's Preakness Stakes, the final leg of the pandemic-scrambled U.S. Triple Crown.
Eleven 3-year-olds were entered for the Preakness at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, including a filly, Swiss Skydiver. Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law is skipping the race after his Triple Crown hopes were dashed with a second-place finish in the Derby.
Trainer Bob Baffert, seeking a record eighth Preakness win, entered two for Saturday's race -- Authentic and Thousand Words, the colt who was scratched just minutes before the Kentucky Derby when he reared up and fell in the Churchill Downs paddock.
Steve Asmussen will saddle three contenders, all posted at double-digit odds on the morning line.
The Preakness normally is the middle leg of the Triple Crown. This year, postponements due to the COVID-19 restrictions found the Belmont Stakes taking the first spot and the Derby second with the Maryland Jockey Club slotting the Preakness in last.
With that schedule set, the Preakness also was tabbed a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
Baffert, in a prerecorded interview with MJC's Acacia Courtney, said both his contenders are doing well. Reflecting on Thousand Words' misbehavior in the Churchill Downs paddock, followed by Authentic's upset win, said, "I felt like I was in a dryer, just getting tumbled around."
Referring to Thousand Words' penchant for misbehaving, he added, "If you know anybody out there who'd like to help us saddle that horse on Saturday ..."
John Velazquez rode Authentic for the first time in the Derby and has the return call. "I learned a lot just by being on him the first time," he said.
Velazquez has won both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, but never the Preakness.
"I've been chasing this race for quite a bit," he said.
Swiss Skydiver takes on male rivals for the second time after finishing second behind Art Collector in the Grade II Blue Grass at Keeneland and faces that rival again. She bounced back from that loss to win the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga, but then was second in the Kentucky Oaks.
Five fillies have won the Preakness, none since Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
The field for the Preakness Stakes, by post position, with jockey and morning-line odds:
1. Excession, Sheldon Russell, 30-1
2. Mr. Big News, Gabriel Saez, 12-1
3. Art Collector, Brian Hernandez Jr., 5-2
4. Swiss Skydiver, Robby Albarado, 6-1
5. Thousand Words, Florent Geroux, 6-1
6. Jesus' Team, Jevian Toledo, 30-1
7. Ny Traffic, Horacio Karamanos, 15-1
8. Max Player, Paco Lopez, 15-1
9. Authentic, John Velazquez, 9-5, favorite
10. Pneumatic, Joe Bravo, 20-1
11. Liveyourbeastlife, Trevor McCarthy, 30-1