Meet the 8 horses racing in Saturday's Preakness Stakes

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Preakness favorite Mystik Dan (R), ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr,, wins the 150th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on May 4. Sierra Leone (L) came in second and Forever Young (C) was third. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Preakness favorite Mystik Dan (R), ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr,, wins the 150th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on May 4. Sierra Leone (L) came in second and Forever Young (C) was third. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) -- Saturday's 149th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore is the second jewel of the Triple Crown. with eight horses going to the post. Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan is the favorite, but faces some new rivals.

The Preakness is scheduled for 6:50 p.m. EDT, and will be broadcast on NBC. It also will stream on Peacock, and the NBC Sports app.


Forecasters call for periods of rain throughout the day, with one-fourth of an inch expected. The temperature will be in the mid-60s at race time.

Here are the horses entered for the 1 3/16-mile race by post position, with sire, trainer, jockey and morning-line odds.

Photo by John Sommers II/UPI

1. Mugatu (by Blofeld), Jeff Enger, Joe Bravo, 20-1

Anything can happen in a big race. A 208-1 shot won a Grade 1 event in Japan just last weekend. But this fellow has only one win from 12 starts, and hasn't hit the board in any of his three stakes starts. In his last outing, he finished fifth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland, 7 1/2 lengths behind eventual Derby runner-up Sierra Leone. He was 118-1 that day, so he did outrun his odds.

Cognianese Photography, courtesy of New York Racing Association

2. Uncle Heavy (by Social Inclusion), Robert E. Reid Jr., Irad Ortiz Jr, 20-1

He has three wins in five starts, with the victories including the Grade III Withers Stakes over a muddy Aqueduct track back in February. That was not a strong field, and he won by a nose over El Grande O. In his last start, he finished fifth in the Grade II Wood Memorial, 11 lengths back of Resilience, who returned to finish fifth in the Kentucky Derby.

Coady Photography, courtesy of Oaklawn Park

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

There was so much focus on the "fighting finish" in the Kentucky Derby that this guy's fourth-place effort largely has been overlooked. He actually was making up ground late in the race and was only beaten 1 3/4 lengths. That followed a last-to-first victory in the Louisiana Derby with Preakness rival Tuscan Gold finishing third. He clearly fits in this field, but the question is whether he has another top effort to give after two tough races, back-to-back. Another fact: So far, he's won every other race -- first, fourth, first, third, first, fourth. If that pattern follows, he's due.


4. Muth (Scratched)

Photo courtesy of Pimlico Race Course

5. Mystik Dan (by Goldencents), Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr., 5-2

He won the Kentucky Derby fair and square over a quality field. Sure, Hernandez gave him the chance with a bold move along the rail at the top of the stretch. But the horse had to seize the opportunity and he did just that. Muth's scratch puts him on top on the morning line, and that's where he belongs. On the other hand, the Derby was only his third win and followed a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby, where he was behind not only Muth, but also Just Steel, who returns for this race. McPeek has noted the colt has not done well in the past running on two weeks' rest, which is the situation here. The opportunity was too good to pass up, but the trainer's reservations are duly noted.

Photo courtesy of Pimlico Race Course

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

This guy wouldn't figure here if he hadn't won the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. Before that, he was third in the Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks on the Turfway Park all-weather course and seventh in the Grade I Blue Grass on the Keeneland dirt. But the Pat Day Mile effort was impressive as he stalked the pace, fought some traffic and won while getting clear of his rivals. Can he go the extra furlong and a half? His sire, Breeders' Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate, certainly could. His maternal grandsire, Smart Strike, was more of a miler.

Photo courtesy of Pimlico Race Course

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

Here's another one who seems to have settled into a "good race, bad race" pattern. He was second (albeit by 8 lengths) in the Grade III Southwest Stakes, won by Mystik Dan. Then he was seventh in the Grade II Rebel, second in the Arkansas Derby, 2 lengths adrift of Muth, and 17th in the Run for the Roses after battling for the lead. Lukas had excuses for the Derby finish. But he hasn't yet shown he can beat the best. Two facts: Justify is one of the hottest young sires going and Lukas, 88, while one of the oldest trainers going, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance.

Photo courtesy of Pimlico Race Course

8. Tuscan Gold (by Medaglia d'Oro), Chad Brown, Tyler Gaffalione, 8-1

He's the least-experienced horse in the race, with only three previous starts and a single win to his credit. Brown obviously saw enough in his third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby to target this race after skipping the Kentucky Derby, and the trainer excels in spotting his horses where they fit. The colt ran just off the pace in Louisiana and finished behind two rivals who came from way, way back. He has to move forward to make his mark here and has the look of an improver.

Benoit Photography, courtesy of Santa Anita

9. Imagination (by Into Mischief), Bob Baffert, Frankie Dettori, 6-1

With Muth out, this is Baffert's only hope in the Preakness and he's a decent hope at that. With two wins and four seconds from six starts, there's a little whiff of "seconditis" on his past-performance sheet. Still, his second in the Santa Anita Derby showed fight and talent. He chased the early pace, took the lead in the stretch only to lose it to Stronghold, and then just missed by a neck with a second effort. Stronghold finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and the Santa Anita Derby pacesetter, Tapalo, returned to sprinting and won the Laz Barrera Stakes by 7 lengths last Saturday. It doesn't take much imagination to see Frankie Dettori doing his "flying dismount" Saturday.

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