As the dust settled on Rich Strike‘s improbable 81-1 victory in the 148th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, the question of who would challenge him in the Preakness Stakes on May 21 in Baltimore, Maryland began to make the rounds across the country.
Rich Strike, a last-minute Derby entrant who got a dream trip under jockey Sonny Leon for trainer Eric Reed, is the only thoroughbred of his generation with a chance to sweep the Triple Crown. If he stuns America again with a Preakness victory, he would have the chance to join 13 immortal Triple Crown winners in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.
That feat won’t be any easier than his Derby win. Chances are Rich Strike will face another large field in the Preakness Stakes, though unlike the 20-horse Kentucky Derby, the field size in Baltimore is limited to 14.
According to published reports, however, as many as 15 other runners are under consideration for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Daily Racing Form reporter Jay Privman reported Sunday that Simplification, who finished fourth behind Rich Strike, is currently the only other Derby entrant certain to join the run for the roses winner in the Preakness.
As for other Derby runners possibly heading to Maryland, Privman said the connections of runner-up Epicenter and eighth-place finisher Smile Happy are both strongly considering entering the race. The final decision will likely come later this week, depending on how each horse responds to training.
Third-place Derby runner Zandon might also be pointed to the Preakness, but according to Privman, his chances of running are not as high as Epicenter’s.
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The most prominent Preakness contender who didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby is the filly Secret Oath, the winner of Friday’s Kentucky Oaks. Trained by 86-year-old Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Secret Oath lost her only other race against the boys with a third-place showing in the Arkansas Derby back in April.
The last filly to win both the Kentucky Oaks and the Preakness Stakes was the incredible Rachel Alexandra in 2009; she defeated a field that included Mine That Bird, who won that year’s Kentucky Derby at 50-1 odds.
Lukas, Privman noted, may also enter Ethereal Road, who had drawn the 20th post in the Kentucky Derby but was scratched Friday morning. That decision opened the door for the also-eligible Rich Strike to enter the race, and make history thereafter.
Other newbies who may enter the Preakness, as reported by Privman and TVG, include the following:
- Early Voting, trained by Chad Brown, finished second in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He had enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but Brown opted not to enter him.
- Rattle N Roll couldn’t get into the Derby picture after three poor showings in prep races earlier this year. Trained by Ken McPeek, his last win came in October, when he won the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.
- Creative Minister, another McPeek horse, ran impressively in winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby undercard on Saturday.
- Un Ojo, who pulled off an upset victory in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, missed the Kentucky Derby with a bruised hoof. The one-eyed horse is trained by Ricky Courville.
- Skippylongstocking, perhaps the most creatively named possible Preakness entrant, was the third-place finisher in the Wood Memorial. He’s trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., who entered White Abarrio in the Kentucky Derby.
- Blackadder, a former Bob Baffert trainee, earned an automatic berth to the Preakness Stakes with his win in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in February. He finished ninth in his most recent start in the Blue Grass Stakes.
- High Oak, trained by William Mott, was last seen running a distant 10th in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park back in March. The horse is co-owned by former WFAN talk show host Mike Francesa.
- Joe, like Blackadder, won a spot in the Preakness with a win in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park in Maryland. Trained by Michael Trombetta, Joe has four wins in six lifetime starts, all at Laurel Park.
- Shake Em Loose, another horse on the Maryland circuit, finished third to Joe in the Tesio. He’s trained by Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon.
The Preakness Stakes is a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the Derby, at 1 3/16 Miles around the Pimlico track. Last year’s Preakness was won by Rombauer, who did not qualify for that year’s Kentucky Derby.