With one win under his belt, Bob Baffert has his sights set on the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Jockey Victor Espinoza pushed the three-year-old colt to victory in one of the most exciting Kentucky Derby races in recent memory. The field of horses drops from 18 to eight for this week’s Preakness. Baffert is expected to pick up his second Triple Crown win on Saturday, though he would certainly prefer for that win to come from American Pharoah and not Dortmund, his other horse in the field.
One of Baffert’s biggest adversaries, Todd Pletcher, has opted not to run any of his horses in Saturday’s race. That gives Baffert one less thing to worry about, however Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line has a pretty favorable post position of eighth for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Here are the horses, the posts, and the odds as of May 14:
|5||Tale of Verve||50/1|
Unfortunately, the story has not been on the horses or the jockeys this week. Pimlico Race Course is in some financial straits given the surrounding neighborhood and the lack of access to the famous course. This is the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes, but this is one of the few weekends that Pimlico draws a crowd. Renovation efforts from the Stronach Group are expected to focus more on Laurel Park, which lies halfway between Baltimore and Washington D.C. rather than the older track at Pimlico. It’s unlikely that a move from Pimlico would happen as quickly as next year, but the Preakness could move to Laurel Park very soon.
In any event, this race still has to be run and American Pharoah is the heavy favorite to pick up the second leg of the Triple Crown. This race doesn’t appear to have a lot of surprise potential. American Pharoah, Dortmund, and Firing Line should all finish somewhere in the win, place, and show boxes on the board when all is said and done. Danzig Moon had a fine run at Churchill Downs with a fifth-place finish. The only other horse to compete in the Run for the Roses was Mr. Z. That horse finished in 13th out of 18 horses.
The lone stumbling block for American Pharoah is the inside post right on the rail. Baffert seemed to get unlucky with the post draw given that both of his horses are on the interior, but he didn’t sound concerned after the draw was announced. A big reason why is because this is not a particularly strong field and Firing Line is the only horse capable of beating either of his colts.
The absence of any Todd Pletcher horses should not come as a surprise. Pletcher’s colts had a disappointing showing at Churchill Downs with finishes of sixth-place and 10th-place. Pletcher doesn’t believe in running his horses on two weeks of rest. The Belmont Stakes is five weeks after the Kentucky Derby, so expect Pletcher to have his horses ready for that race.
Without Pletcher and without other horses that could have been in the field, the Preakness field is one of the smallest in years. Bettors interested in having action on the race, but aren’t interested in taking the favorites, would probably have to look to Firing Line, who finished just one length behind American Pharoah. Barring a major surprise, a box trifecta looks like a money maker, though the return on investment is not going to be very exciting.
The 140th Preakness Stakes will be called to post at 6:18 p.m. ET on Saturday, with coverage on NBC.