That leaves us with the following anomaly: This year’s Preakness Stakes will feature none of the top three Derby finishers for the first time since 1951, a fact that holds up whether you consider Maximum Security the actual winner or the 17th-place finisher, which is where the Churchill Downs stewards put him after his disqualification.
But the Triple Crown goes on even if no Triple Crown is at stake. Here’s a look at the probable field for next Saturday’s Run for the Black-Eyed Susans:
Kentucky Derby runners
The Daily Racing Form’s David Grening reported Friday that trainer Michael Trombetta will be sending the declared ninth-place finisher at the Kentucky Derby to Pimlico. Trombetta operates out of Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., about an hour northeast of Baltimore, so it won’t be a long trip for the son of Hat Trick.
“Today was his first day back on the track for a light jog. It was fine. Everything seems fine,” Trombetta told Horse Racing Nation on Wednesday after Win Win Win had his first bit of light exercise after the Derby. “I just want to observe and make sure that I am completely happy before I go in that direction and make that commitment. It was a hard trip, and it was a bit of tough circumstances with the race.”
All signs point to the Derby’s declared fourth-place finisher heading to Pimlico for trainer Bob Baffert, who’s looking for his record-setting eighth Preakness win. His seventh came last year with Triple Crown winner Justify and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who will replace Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard Improbable in Baltimore.
Assuming he runs, Improbable seems likely to be the morning-line favorite.
“I’m excited to go up there with Improbable and see if he can redeem himself,” Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar Farm, told Horse Racing Nation on Thursday. “He ran well in the Derby, looked like he got bogged down a little bit the last quarter of a mile when Irad tipped him out. I’m not sure that was the best part of the racetrack. It seemed like horses down inside were running very well, and it looked like he bogged down a little bit when he got out and got clear. I thought he was going to win at the quarter pole, because he was traveling well. Then he tipped out and he just didn’t look like he had the same stride he’s had in the past.”
The horse whom Maximum Security interfered with at the Kentucky Derby, drawing his historic disqualification, emerged mostly unscathed from the chaos and finished a declared seventh, and trainer Mark Casse almost immediately had him pointed to the Preakness.
“He was jumping up and down,” Casse said Sunday with a laugh after observing War of Will at Churchill Downs. “It was like he didn’t do anything.”
The Derby long shot, who only got into the race when favorite Omaha Beach scratched, finished a declared 13th at Churchill Downs. Gustavo Delgado Jr., assistant and son of trainer Gustavo Delgado, thinks that finish would have been better if not for Maximum Security.
“He was one of the affected ones,” Delgado Jr. said Wednesday. “We think he could have hit the board if it wasn’t for that, the way he was developing. The most important thing is that the horse came back in good shape and is doing well.”
The son of three-time stud champion Tapit (sire of the 2014, 2016 and 2017 Belmont Stakes winners) finished second at the Fountain of Youth Stakes, behind Kentucky Derby runner-up Code of Honor, and a late-closing fourth at the Florida Derby, which was Bourbon War’s most recent race (seven weeks before the Preakness).
The second-place horse at the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland didn’t accumulate enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, so trainer Blaine Wright has kept Anothertwistafate at Golden Gate Fields in California in anticipation of the Preakness. The new shooter should give the race some early speed.
A third-place finisher at last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and this year’s Blue Grass Stakes, Signalman would have run in the Kentucky Derby had he been placed on the also-eligible list because of the two scratches. But trainer Kenny McPeek passed in anticipation of the Preakness.
The Maryland-bred Alwaysmining has won six straight races and posted career-best 99 Brisnet speed ratings in his past two starts, the most recent being an 11½-length triumph at the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park in April.
The Oaklawn Invitational winner finished a strong fourth behind erstwhile Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach, eventual Derby favorite Improbable and eventual Derby winner Country House at the Arkansas Derby on April 13.
Trained by Brad Cox, Warrior’s Charge last was seen winning an allowance race at Oaklawn Park by 6½ lengths under Florent Geroux, who will ride Owendale for the Preakness. Javier Castellano has the mount at the Preakness, where Warrior’s Charge could set a fast pace early.
Also trained by Cox, Owendale was a disappointing eighth at the Risen Star Stakes in February, 10 lengths behind winner War of Will, before holding off Anothertwistafate to win the Lexington Stakes in April.
Neil Greenberg’s unofficial morning line
The Post’s numbers guy and horse racing expert took a look into his crystal ball to give his thoughts on what the morning line might look like next week, assuming the field stays at 11.