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When Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert wins the Kentucky Derby, he also wins the Preakness. He is a perfect 5-5 going into the race in Maryland on October 3rd. Hard to argue with a that record. However, it is 2020.
If Authentic’s work on Saturday is any indication of what is to come, the odds are in their favor. Authentic worked the bullet (fastest time of the day) under jockey Martin Garcia, who filled in for John Velasquez. Hall of Famer Velasquez, who was up for the Derby win, will have the mount again in the Preakness.
The son of red-hot sire Into Mischief went five furlongs in :59.20 and looked like a million dollars doing it. Incidentally, that just happens to be the purse for the Preakness.
His biggest challenger will be Art Collector. And, again, if works are any indicator, it will be a battle worth watching! Tommy Drury got exactly what he wanted from Art Collector Saturday as well. The son of Bernardini went five furlongs in :59.40 and galloped out a mile under jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. It was such a strong gallop out, I said aloud, “pull him up, Brian!” as I was watching the video. This horse has a beautiful, elongated, and very fluid stride that lets him cover lots of ground almost effortlessly.
As you may recall, Art Collector had to be withdrawn from Kentucky Derby consideration the day before the post position draw. He caught his front heel with his back foot while galloping on Sunday. It was a heartbreaking turn of events for the connections. Trainer Tommy Drury missed a shot at his first Derby. Those of us who know and love him are holding our breath for the rest of the week. We desperately want to see Art Collector board “Air Horse One” and head to Maryland next week.
Other definite contenders worth mentioning are Kentucky Derby third place finisher, Mr. Big News and Baffert’s Thousand Words, who was scratched from the race when he flipped over in the paddock just prior to post time.
Thousand Words’ Saturday morning work was not comparable to those of Authentic and Art Collector. Baffert says he he has never been a great work horse, but he really did not look comfortable. The son of Pioneer of the Nile covered the seven furlongs in 1:27.80 under jockey Florent Geroux. He picked it up at the end after going five eighths in 1:02.40; however, his ears were pinned coming down the lane and he just looked like he did not want to be there.
Kentucky Derby favorite, Tiz the Law, will skip the Preakness. His next start will be the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. Good decision. Bravo Sackatoga Stables and Barclay Tagg!
The defection of “Tiz” could clear the way for an eleventh hour entry of Swiss Skydiver. Trainer Kenny McPeek says the second place Oaks finisher and winner of the Alabama is training well and I believe him. Swiss Skydiver worked four furlongs this weekend in :48 under jockey Tyler Gaffalione and looked great doing it. Art Collector bested her in the Bluegrass. So, it is my humble opinion that McPeek would simply be looking for a piece of the pie with this move. I think she is more likely to make her next start at Keeneland in a Grade I contest such as the Spinster or the QE2.
Interestingly, two horses are being supplemented to the Preakness this year. That means they will pay $25,000 each just to enter the 1 3/16 mile race. Liveyourbeastlife and Jesus’ Team will join the mix on October 3rd. Jesus’ Team was third in the Jim Dandy. Both are longshots.
Speaking of longshots, Mongolian Wind and Pneumatic are also confirmed for the race. And, trainer Todd Pletcher has two possibles under consideration. Happy Saver has a free berth for his win in the Fredrick Tesio and Dr. Post was fourth in the Jim Dandy. Pletcher appears to be shopping for other spots for these horses. I expect at least one of them – if not both – to opt for a next out at Belmont.
Based on what I see right now, I think this is two horse race between Authentic and Art Collector. If Swiss Skydiver enters, she could be vying for a piece of the action underneath with Thousand Words and Mr. Big News.
Here is one quick observation about Mr. Big News. He shocked the racing world with his aforementioned third place finish in the Derby at 45-1. But, this horse is a Giant’s Causeway out of a Galileo mare. That just screams turf to me. Yet, this horse has never had the opportunity to try the grass. I hope trainer Bret Calhoun gives him a shot on the surface at some point.
The 145th Preakness will be contested with no spectators this year, and no state song. “Maryland, My Maryland” has been a fixture of the race since 1909. Written in 1861 by James Ryder Randall, it has the unfortunate theme of encouraging Maryland to secede from the union. Given the racial tensions in our country, the powers that be have opted to drop it…and I believe that decision is permanent.
The post position draw is Monday, September 28th. Let’s hope for a nice field of healthy horses, good weather, and a safe trip for all. I will be celebrating as I always do, with a Black-eyed Susan! It is the Preakness equivalent of the Kentucky Derby Mint Julep. Lovely and refreshing. Cheers!!