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With Muth out, Saturday's Preakness Stakes seems set up for Mystic Dan

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
The Preakness favorite, Mystik Dan, practices at Pimlico. Photo courtesy of Pimlico Race Course.
The Preakness favorite, Mystik Dan, practices at Pimlico. Photo courtesy of Pimlico Race Course.

May 17 (UPI) -- With West Coast invader and original morning-line favorite Muth out of the race, Saturday's Preakness would appear to be well set up for Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan to continue a march toward the Triple Crown with a victory.

There are some questions, although Mystik Dan does seem to have provided a study guide.

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Rain is in the forecast, meaning that Pimlico Race Course track might be less than fast. That's always a complicating factor.

Mystik Dan's reply: His only experience on an off track resulted in an 8-length victory in the Southwest Stakes back in February with his career-best Beyer Speed Figure.

Muth's defection after spiking a fever removed the expected front-running speed from the race, potentially making it a bit tougher for late-running types to make up ground down the stretch. Mystik Dan is that type.

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Answer: He came from well off a slow pace in the mud in the Southwest.

One unanswered question: Mystik Dan's trainer, Kenny McPeek, pointed out right after the Derby that his colt in the past has not run well on just two weeks' rest -- the length of time he's had off since the Run for the Roses.

Will the Preakness be a different story? The answer to that will come a couple of minutes after 7 p.m. EDT Saturday.

If Mystik Dan, for whatever the reason, isn't the one, the other seven in the 1 3/16-mile race, by revised morning-line odds, are: Imagination, 3-1; Catching Freedom, 7-2; Tuscan Gold, 9-2; Seize the Grey, 12-1; Just Steel, 12-1; Mugatu, 20-1; and Uncle Heavy, 20-1.

Other weekend action, including the Japanese Oaks and results from a key race meeting at York in northern England:

Classic

Everybody who wanted in for the Preakness got in so the field for Saturday's $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico is left to the B Team of 3-year-olds.

Red Route One and Kingsbarns are favorites among eight in Friday's $250,000 Grade III Pimlico Special on Old Hilltop.

Distaff

Corposo, coming off a third, beaten 8 lengths, in the Santa Anita Oaks, is the morning-line favorite for Friday's $300,000 Grade II Black-Eyed Susan for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico.

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Friday's $100,000 Allaire du Pont Distaff at Pimlico drew and very competitive field of eight.

Sprint

Only seven registered for Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Maryland Sprint Stakes at Pimlico, but it's a well-matched bunch.

Eight 3-year-olds are entered for Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico. Oaklawn Park import Frost Free is the 2-1 favorite on the morning line but -- and forgive us if we're repeating ourselves -- it's a very wide-open race.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Youalmosthadme is the 2-1 favorite on the morning line in a field of 12 for Friday's $150,000 Grade III Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico.

Beguine, Big Pond and Hot Fudge are bunched atop the morning line for Saturday's 175,000 Grade III Vagrancy Stakes at Aqueduct.

Seven well-matched fillies and mares are set for Saturday's $100,000 Skipat Stakes at Pimlico.

Turf / Turf Mile

Bold Act rates as the even-money favorite in a field of 11 for Saturday's $250,000 Grade III Louisville Stakes at Churchill Downs. The Godolphin runner exits a third-place finish in the Grade II Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland but earlier in the year won the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold Stakes at Meydan.

Emannuel, a five-time graded stakes winner for trainer Todd Pletcher, is the morning-line favorite in a contentious field for Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Dinner Party Stakes at Pimlico. The More Than Ready colt was third in last year's running, beaten just 1/2 length.

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A diverse cast of 11, plus one for main track only, is set for Saturday's $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico.

Filly & Mare Turf

She Feels Pretty, third but beaten only 1/2 length in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, makes her 2024 debut for trainer Cherie DeVaux in Friday's $100,000 Hilltop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Fluffy Socks is the 6-5 favorite on the morning line for Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Gallorette Stakes at Pimlico.

Turf Sprint

Royal Ascot is only a month away, and trainer Wesley Ward has Kaufymaker back on course as the 2-1 morning-line favorite in Friday's $100,000 The Very One Stakes for fillies and mares at Pimlico. The now 5-year-old was eighth in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at the 2021 Royal meeting.

Crimson Advocate definitely is looking for a return trip to Royal Ascot when she lines up against an all-male cast in Saturday's $95,000 Roar Stakes for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park. She won last year's Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes.

Twelve will line up for Saturday's $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico.

Eight fillies and mares go down the hillside course in Saturday's $150,000 Mizdirection Stakes at Santa Anita.

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Around the world, around the clock

Japan

Sunday's Grade 1 Yushun Himba or Japanese Oaks at Tokyo Racecourse features Stellenbosch, winner of the Grade 1 Oka Sho or Japanese 1,000 Guineas.

The Epiphaneia filly, like most of the field, tackles 2,400 meters for the first time and will need to show added stamina when hitting the uphill gradient in the Tokyo straight.

England

Economics supplied a Derby-level performance in a runaway victory in Thursday's Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York, but a trip to Epsom Downs will demand a bit more cash from the Night of Thunder colt's connections.

Economics easily drew off from six rivals through the final furlong of the Dante to win by 6 lengths. He is not in the Derby, however, and trainer William Haggis said he doesn't feel the colt is suited to the Classic's conditions. Owner Sheik Isa Salman al Khalifa will make the call.

Also Thursday, Juddmonte homebred Bluestocking posted an almost equally impressive win in the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies Stakes for 4-year-olds and up. The 4-year-old Camelot miss dominated the final furlong and won by 6 lengths.

And last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner, Big Evs, made a successful return to competition Thursday, powering to a 1 1/2-length victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes..

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On Wednesday, Mill Stream won a four-horse scramble to the finish in the Group 2 Duke of York Clipper Stakes. And Secret Satire won the Group 3 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes for 3-year-old fillies as odds-on favorite Friendly Soul finished last of seven.

On Saturday at Newbury, Big Rock and Inspiral are the big guns in the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.

Inspiral, idle since winning the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf last November, had been questionable for the race as trainers John and Thady Gosden watched the skies to see what predicted rain might do to the course.

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