For the first time in 23 years, the Kentucky Derby winner will not compete in the Preakness, putting an end to this year’s Triple Crown chase before it truly began.
Maximum Security, the disqualified winner of the Kentucky Derby, isn’t entered. Country House, the actual winner of the Kentucky Derby after the stewards completed their inquiry, also won’t be there. Second-place finisher Code of Honor and third-place finisher Tacitus will not run, either, marking the first time since 1951 that the official top three finishers in the first leg of the Triple Crown have passed on the chance to compete in the second.
That opens the door for almost any horse in this field, which is one of the largest (13 horses, the most since 14 entered the race in 2011) and weakest in years.
Of the four horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby — Improbable (fourth place), War of Will (seventh place), Win Win Win (ninth) and Bodexpress (13th place) — only War of Will has won a graded stakes race as a 3-year-old. Improbable won the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity as a 2-year-old. Win Win Win’s last win was in a non-graded stakes race, and Bodexpress is still a maiden, winless in six starts. Among the nine new shooters — Alwaysmining, Anothertwistafate, Bourbon War, Everfast, Laughing Fox, Market King, Owendale, Signalman and Warrior’s Charge — only Owendale (Lexington Stakes at Keeneland) and Signalman (Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November) have graded stakes wins on their résumés. Compare that to five graded stakes winners in the eight-horse field from 2018 and seven graded stakes winners in the 10-horse field from 2017, and it is easy to see why this race has no obvious standout based on class.
Improbable is, however, a deserving morning-line favorite. Bob Baffert’s colt has run well in all three graded stakes events as a 3-year-old and gets a switch to Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith for this race. Baffert also has trained seven Preakness winners, tying him with R.W. Walden for the most all-time, and saw Smith guide his horse Justify to a Triple Crown victory last year.
Here is analysis on all the horses set to compete in the Preakness.
Post time: Saturday, 6:48 p.m. Eastern time, NBC
No. 1 War of Will (4-1)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
He is one of two horses in the field with a graded stakes win as a 3-year-old, beating Kentucky Derby winner Country House in February’s Risen Star at Fair Grounds by 2¼ lengths.
No. 2 Bourbon War (12-1)
Trainer: Mark Hennig
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
A second-place finish in the Fountain of Youth and a fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby, both at Gulfstream Park, weren’t enough to get him into the Kentucky Derby, but he did flash a fierce closing style in both races that makes him likely to hit the board on Saturday.
No. 3 Warrior’s Charge (12-1)
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Javier Castellano
It took Warrior’s Charge four races to break his maiden, and when he finally did, it was impressive: a wire-to-wire romp in a $100,000 maiden special weight at Oaklawn Park in March. He followed that up with a 6½-length victory in his next outing as the favorite in an allowance optional claiming race in April at that same track. It remains to be seen whether he is ready for this step up in class.
No. 4 Improbable (5-2)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith
This son of City Zip has yet to win a race as a 3-year old (3-0-2-0) but Bob Baffert makes a jockey switch to Mike Smith. Smith was aboard Justify for Baffert and WinStar Farm, a co-owner of Improbable, during last year’s Triple Crown run.
No. 5 Owendale (10-1)
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Rupp Racing’s colt took a big step forward in the Lexington Stakes, winning by 1¾ lengths and setting a career-high Brisnet speed figure of 99, tying Alwaysmining for the highest last-race speed figure in the field.
No. 6 Market King (30-1)
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Jon Court
Lukas is no stranger to the second leg of the Triple Crown — he’s entered 43 horses in the Preakness and has won the race six times — yet Market King is a long shot to give him another graded stakes win at Pimlico. A son of Into Mischief, the busiest stallion in America in 2017, Market King was third in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March and 11th in the Blue Grass at Keeneland in April.
No. 7 Alwaysmining (8-1)
Trainer: Kelly Rubley
Jockey: Daniel Centeno
This dark brown colt has won six in a row, including the Preakness’s “Win and You’re In” Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel by a whopping 11 lengths in April. A front-running style and increasing speed figures give him a chance to win again close to home. If he does, he would be the first Maryland-bred horse to win the race since 1983.
No. 8 Signalman (30-1)
Trainer: Kenny McPeek
Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.
He was on the wrong side of the bubble for the Kentucky Derby, but Signalman ended his 2-year-old campaign with a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and set a new pace top (111) as a 3-year-old in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in April. A contender here.
No. 9 Bodexpress (20-1)
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
Jockey: John Velazquez
This son of Bodemeister, who was the runner-up in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, had a decent showing in the Florida Derby (second by 3½ lengths) however he is still winless in six starts. The last maiden to win the Preakness was Refund in 1888.
No. 10 Everfast (50-1)
Trainer: Dale L. Romans
Jockey: Joel Rosario
A late entry to the field on Wednesday, Everfast broke his maiden in his first race at Ellis Park but is winless since. His best efforts include placing third in an optional claiming race in 2018 at Churchill Downs and second in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in February.
No. 11 Laughing Fox (20-1)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
He closed for a victory in the inaugural Oaklawn Invitational and secured his Preakness bid in the process, but Oaklawn favors closers at that distance — they win 1.6 times as often as horses with early speed, per John Doyle of Optixplot — discounting the effort.
No. 12 Anothertwistafate (6-1)
Trainer: Blaine Wright
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
His sire, Scat Daddy, also was the sire of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, yet there are still some concerns, namely all three of his wins and career-best Brisnet speed figure to date (99) have come on the all-weather surface at Golden Gate Fields.
No. 13 Win Win Win (15-1)
Trainer: Michael Trombetta
Jockey: Julian Pimentel
Win Win Win’s only win of 2019 is the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in a five-horse field in January. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to duplicate that effort since he moved to graded stakes company. His trainer is also 0 for 5 in graded stakes events this year and Trombetta’s last graded stakes win was in 2012.