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No Derby winner among the 13 entrants in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes; Improbable the 5-2 favorite

By Liane Crossley
Special to KyForward

Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore has attracted a field of 13, but there will be no chance of a Triple Crown this season. Kentucky Derby winner Country House is bypassing the race after reportedly showing mild symptoms of illness after the Derby. The morning line favorite at odds of 5-2 is Improbable, whose fourth-place finish in the Derby is the best among the Preakness entrants.

Improbable (Photo courtesy Churchill Downs)

The Preakness features the return of additional Derby runners War of Will, Win Win Win and Bodexpress and a fleet of newcomers to the Triple Crown series. Storylines include a Maryland-based racer whose trainer is seeking to become the first female conditioner to win the middle jewel and an 83-year-old legend looking for a seventh Preakness score.

At 1 3/16th miles, the 144th Preakness is the shortest of the Triple Crown races and a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the Kentucky Derby which was contested this year on a muddy surface.

Post time is 6:48 p.m. ET with television coverage on NBC from 5:00 to 7:15 and additional broadcasts on NBCSN starting at 2:00.

Following are summaries of the entrants and their connections to Kentucky in post-position order with native states in parentheses.

1. War of Will (Ky.)

War of Will was arguably the horse most bothered by the interference that resulted in the Kentucky Derby disqualification of Maximum Security. His trainer Mark Casse noted that the colt’s extreme athleticism enabled him to continue running in a situation that might have caused a fall. Often dubbed WOW by his fans to reflect his initials and regal demeanor, War of Will was a disappointing ninth in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in New Orleans on March 23 prior to the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky connection: War of Will was listed as unsold on a final bid of $175,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale. His sire War Front resides at Claiborne Farm in Paris.

2. Bourbon War (Ky.)

The connections of Bourbon War had the Kentucky Derby on their schedule but their plans changed when the colt lacked sufficient qualifying points to be entered. A close second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park behind eventual Kentucky Derby runner-up Code of Honor, Bourbon War has not raced since finishing fourth in Gulfstream’s Florida Derby on March 30.

Kentucky connection: He was sold as a weanling for $410,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale and went unsold on a final bid of $525,000 the following year at the Keeneland September yearling sale. His sire Tapit stands at Gainesway farm in Lexington.

3. Warrior’s Charge (Florida)

Warrior’s Charge will be making his stakes debut in the Preakness and will be racing away from Oaklawn Park for the first time in his five-race career. Third in his first three starts, Warrior’s Charge was victorious on March 16 and was an impressive allowance winner on April 12.

Kentucky connection: His sire Munnings is a stallion at Ashford Stud in Versailles.

4. Improbable (Ky.)

Improbable comes from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Preakness six times including with Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify. Improbable was officially fourth in the Kentucky Derby as the 4-1 favorite. Prior to that he was second in the Arkansas Derby on April 13.

Kentucky connection: He has been sold twice at Keeneland auctions—as a weanling for $100,000 in November 2016 and as a yearling the following September for $200,000. His sire City Zip spent most of his stallion career at Lane’s End in Versailles.

5. Owendale (Ky.)

Owendale earned his first victory in the upper echelons when he won Keeneland’s Lexington Stakes on April 13.

Kentucky connection: He was purchased for $200,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale.

6. Market King (Ky.)

Market King is trained by 83-year-old D. Wayne Lukas who has won the Preakness six times. The colt is back in action for the first time since finishing unplaced in Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes on April 6.

Kentucky connection: Market King was sold at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale for $550,000. His sire Into Mischief resides at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington.

7. Alwaysmining (Md.)

Locally based horses always add a bit of charm to the Preakness and this year’s charmer is Maryland-born and –raced Alwaysmining. After making his first three starts in Kentucky, he has raced exclusively at Laurel Park, 45 minutes south of Pimlico. He is on a six-race winning streak including a trio of triumphs in Preakness prep races. He is trained by Kelly Rubley who is seeking to become the first woman to win the Peakness.

Kentucky connection: He was sold for $32,000 at the 2017 Keeneland January sale and for $130,000 in the Keeneland September yearling sale.

8. Signalman (Ky.)

Signalman has finished among the top three in six of seven career starts including his third in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in April. Signalman’s co-owner Tommie Lewis named the colt for her husband Travis who was a signalman on aircraft carriers during the Vietnam War. The name also is a nod to Signalman’s sire General Quarters, a warship term that means “go to battle stations.”

Kentucky connection: Signalman was purchased for $32,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s 2017 October yearling sale.

9. Bodexpress (Ky.)

Despite being winless in his first five starts, Bodexpress earned enough qualifying points by finishing second in the Florida Derby to rank 21st on the final leader list for the Kentucky Derby that is limited to a field of 20. When morning line favorite Omaha Beach scratched days before the Derby, Bodexpress solidified a place in the starting gate. His official finishing position was 13th.

Kentucky connection: He was listed as not sold on a final bid of $45,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale. His sire Bodemeister is a stallion at WinStar Farm in Versailles.

10. Everfast (Ky.)

Everfast won his career debut at Ellis Park in western Kentucky in August but has only a second and a third in nine subsequent starts. He was fifth in the Pat Day Mile Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard in his most recent start.

Kentucky connection: He was purchased by Lexington’s famed Calumet Farm for $47,000 at the 2017 Keeneland January sale.

11. Laughing Fox (Ky.)

Laughing Fox earned his first stakes victory in the inaugural Oaklawn Invitational on May 4. His trainer Steve Asmussen won the Preakness twice.

Kentucky connection: He was sold at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale for $120,000.

12. Anothertwistafate (Ky.)

The well-traveled colt was runner-up in the Sunland Park Derby in New Mexico and Keeneland’s Lexington Stakes. He then made the trek to Churchill Downs but was not entered in the Kentucky Derby because others had more qualifying points. He trained for the Preakness at his Golden Gate Fields base in Northern California.

Kentucky connection: His sire Scat Daddy spent his breeding career at Ashford Stud in Versailles.

13. Win Win Win (Florida)

His late rally to finish second in Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes stamped Win Win Win’s ticket to the Derby in which he officially finished ninth. Prior to that he was third in the Tampa Bay Derby. His name is derived from his sire Hat Trick, a sports term for three victories. His trainer Mike Trombetta and jockey Julian Pimentel are based in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Kentucky connection: His sire Hat Trick resided at Gainesway farm in Lexington.

Lexington-based freelance writer Liane Crossley is a lifelong lover of Thoroughbred racing who has held a variety of jobs in both barns and offices. Her favorite part of the industry is being with the horses and the people who share her passion for them. She can be reached at crossleyliane@yahoo.com

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