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The Preakness Stakes (Grade 1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, is steeped in tradition, and has a colorful history. The richest trophy in American sports, the Woodlawn Vase, which has a very colorful history of its own, will once again be in the spotlight.
Instead of “My Old Kentucky Home,” it’s “Maryland, My Maryland” It is a chance for Derby also-rans to get their shot at redemption and cement their own place in history, and most importantly, it is a chance for the Kentucky Derby hero to take another step towards immortality. The quest for the elusive Triple Crown goes on for the Kentucky Derby Winner, a prize that has been claimed by only 11 horses.
The rematch is officially on between Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) Winner I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley) and Derby runner-up Bodemeister (Empire Maker). Trainer Bob Baffert announced on Monday that his colt would ship to Pimlico to take on the Derby winner. The Empire Maker colt will likely be the favorite on Saturday due to his super impressive performance in the Run for the Roses where he set wicked fractions and was caught in the final 1/16.
The Preakness is 1 3/16 miles to the Derby’s 1 1/4 miles. It has been a long time since the Derby runner-up turned the tables on the Derby winner in the Preakness, last done by Prairie Bayou (Little Missouri) in 1993. I’ll Have Another is trying to be the first horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown since Big Brown (Boundary) in 2008. As is well documented, no horse has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed (Exclusive Native) in 1978.
Other Kentucky Derby runners that will likely contest in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown are Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) [5th in the Derby], Liaison (Indian Charlie) [6th], Optimizer (English Channel) [11th], and Went the Day Well (Proud Citizen) [4th]. Notable defectors from the Preakness field include Derby third place finisher Dullahan (Even the Score), Union Rags (Dixie Union), and Champion Hansen (Tapit).
Dullahan will wait and target the Belmont Stakes (Grade 1) three weeks after the Preakness.
There are a whole host of new shooters in the Preakness including Derby Trial Stakes (Grade 3) Winner Hierro (Hard Spun) and Canonero II Stakes Winner Pretension (Bluegrass Cat). Since Red Bullet (Unbridled) upset Fusaichi Pegasus (Mr. Prospector) in 2000, two horses that did not contest in the Kentucky Derby have won the Black Eyed Susans, Bernardini (A.P. Indy) in 2006 and the filly Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) in 2009.
The Peter Pan (Grade 2) last week came up aces again for the trio of owner Brereton Jones, trainer Larry Jones, and jockey Rosie Napravnik when Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) powered to an impressive 1 1/4 length score. The trio same was successful in the previous week’s Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1) with Believe You Can (Proud Citizen). Mark Valeski will most likely go in the Belmont.
Seth Kochera is a graduate of Georgetown College, working in the horse industry. He studies bloodlines and racing performance and shares his knowledge with KyForward readers. He’ll be following the road to the Triple Crown. His email is email@example.com.