Preakness field of runners shaping up to be a small one

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Justify wins a rain-soaked Kentucky Derby. Image via the Kentucky Derby on Twitter.

Kentucky Derby winner Justify is set to take a shot at the Preakness in his bid for horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Trainer Bob Baffert said the 3-year-old colt was raring to go after his 2 1/2 length victory in the mud at Churchill Downs.

“He’s pretty wild,” Baffert told the Maryland Jockey Club, which runs the Preakness, on Sunday. “He came out of it really well. He’s full of himself. He came back and he wasn’t really that tired and ate up last night. Today he’s been a handful.”

With the victory, Justify became the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Run for the Roses without having raced as a 2-year-old.

In four previous tries, Baffert has brought the Derby winner to Pimlico and captured the Preakness (Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, War Emblem in 2002 and American Pharoah in 2015).

Early indications are that many of the other Derby runners won’t try Justify a second time.

Legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who ties Baffert with six Preakness wins, will send sixth-place finisher Bravazo. And he’ll add another runner, Sporting Chance, who finished fourth in the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day.

Otherwise, most trainers appear to be skipping Old Hilltop, according to reports out of Louisville.

Chad Brown, trainer of second-place finisher Good Magic, initially said after the race that he would not ship his horse to Baltimore. But he appeared to be considering the prospect more on Sunday, saying he and the owners would make a decision sometime today.

“I’ve got an idea, but I’ve got to wait until I talk to the owners,” Brown told the Maryland Jockey Club.

Todd Pletcher, who ran four horses, including third-best Audible, said he will be shipping all his horses back to his home base in New York.

Another entrant will be likely long shot Diamond King, winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park, which guarantees the top finisher a spot in the starting gate at the Preakness.

One of the more intriguing fresh runners was Quip, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby and runner-up in the Arkansas Derby. He had enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but his connections decided to point him toward the Preakness instead.

There’s just one problem: Quip is also owned by a group that includes WinStar Farm and  China Horse Club, two of the groups with stakes in Justify–meaning one of their horses could end the Triple Crown chances of the other.

WinStar CEO Elliott Walden told the Maryland Jockey Club they were still hashing out the details. (WinStar is also in the group that owns Audible, who is reportedly being pointed to the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes).

“I hesitate to say right now. We’ll see how the week plays out,” he said. “My first inclination is to go ahead and run him, but we need to talk to our partners and see. But we’d set the horse up to run in the Preakness and he worked very well on Thursday. If Justify is supposed to win the Triple Crown, he’ll beat Quip. I just think you try to manage your horses the best you can and that it’s the right thing for Quip. Not making a final decision today. The horse is doing really well, and we’ll see.”

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore Business Journal, b and others. Prior to joining Baltimore Fishbowl, he was an editor at City Paper from 2012 to 2017. He can be reached at [email protected]
Brandon Weigel


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