Has the Kentucky Derby controversy hurt the sport?
This is the first Preakness Stakes since 1951 in which the first four horses to cross the finish line in the Kentucky Derby did not enter the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
So minus Maximum Security, Country House, Code of Honor and Tacitus, here’s a rundown of the 13 horses in the 144th running of the Preakness at Pimlico. Horses are listed in order of post position with morning line odds in parentheses:
1-War of Will (4-1): Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Tayler Gaffalione, War of Will was the colt who took the brunt of the foul committed by Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby. The son of War Front was placed seventh. War of Will had won three straight starts, including the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes and the Grade 2 Risen Star before a strained muscle suffered early in the Louisiana Derby caused him to finish ninth. The colt was training well before the Kentucky Derby and Casse is convinced he will run big at Pimlico.
2-Bourbon War (12-1): Trained by Mark Hennig and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Bourbon War is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby on March 30. The fact that Florida Derby winner Maximum Security crossed the line first in the Kentucky Derby caused Hennig to enter Bourbon War in the Preakness. The son of Tapit ran second in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 2. He has won two of his five lifetime starts, including one of three this year. Given the strength of Florida Derby field, he has a shot here.
3-Warrior’s Charge (12-1): One of two colts trainer Brad Cox has in the race. Lexington Stakes winner Owendale is the other. Javier Castellano will ride Warrior’s Charge, who will making his first attempt in stakes company. The son of Munnings is coming off back-to-back wins at Oaklawn Park, the most recent being an allowance optional claiming race on April 12. The late-developing colt ran just once as a 2-year-old. Castellano has won the Preakness twice, aboard Bernardini in 2006 and in 2017 on Cloud Computing.
4-Improbable (5-2): Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, Improbable is the morning line favorite. He is owned by the same group that owned Preakness winner Justify last year — WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and Starlight Racing. The son of City Zip was placed fourth in the Kentucky Derby after finishing second in both the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and a division of the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn. Came out of the Derby well, but there are questions about his distance capabilities. Baffert is looking for his eighth Preakness win, which would be a record. Smith has won the Preakness twice, on Prairie Bayou in 1993 and Justify last year.
5-Owendale (10-1): The second of Brad Cox’s two Preakness entries, Owendale will be ridden by Florent Geroux. After a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb. 16, the son of Into Mischief won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 13. His dam sire, Bernardini, won the 2006 Preakness, the race in which Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro suffered an injury after leaving the starting gate.
6-Market King (30-1): Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Preakness five times, the most recent coming in 2013 with Oxbow. Market King is a longshot here, however, after finishing 11th in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6. Before that he was third in a division of the Rebel Stakes on March 16 at Oaklawn. The 58-year-old Jon Court gets the ride in the Preakness.
7-Alwaysmining (8-1): A former assistant to Barclay Tagg, Kelly Rubley is attempting to be the first female trainer to win the race in Preakness history. A son of Stay Thirsty, Alwaysmining is a Maryland-bred who has won six straight races. Last time out, he won the Federico Tesio by 11 1/2 lengths on April 20 at Laurel Park. The Preakness is his first try in a graded stakes. Daniel Centeno gets the ride. Alwaysmining will be the sentimental favorite among the Maryland bettors.
8-Signalman (30-1): Trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Brian Hernandez, Signalman just missed qualifying for the Kentucky Derby after finishing third in the Blue Grass Stakes. The son of General Quarters was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year before winning the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24. This year, he ran seventh in the Fountain of Youth before the Blue Grass.
9-Bodexpress (20-1): Trained by Gustavo Delgado and ridden by John Velazquez, Bodexpress is coming off a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby. He was forced to check when Maximum Security impeded War of Will and Long Range Toddy and ended up 13th. Before that, the son of Bodemeister finished second to Maximum Security in the Florida Derby. He was entered as an also eligible in the Kentucky Derby and made it in the starting gate when Omaha Beach was forced to scratch mid-week.
10-Everfast (50-1): A last-second entry by trainer Dale Romans, Everfast is the longest shot in the race. Romans won the 2011 Preakness with Shackleford. Owned by Calumet Farm, Everfast has won just one of 10 races in his career, including 0-for-5 this year. After a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream, the son of Take Charge Indy has finished eighth in the Fountain of Youth, ninth in the Florida Derby and fifth in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs on Derby day. Joel Rosario will ride Everfast in the Preakness.
11-Laughing Fox (20-1): Trained by Steve Asmussen, Laughing Fox had his Preakness entry fee paid by Oaklawn Park after winning the inaugural Oaklawn Invitational. The son of Belmont winner Union Rags finished fourth in the Arkansas Derby and seventh in a division of the Rebel Stakes. Ricardo Santana gets the ride on Laughing Fox in the Preakness. Asmussen has won the Preakness twice, first with Curlin in 2007 and then with the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
12-Anothertwistafate (6-1): Trained by Blaine Wright and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Anothertwistafate has run second in his last two starts, first in the Sunland Park Derby to Cutting Humor on March 24 and then in the Lexington Stakes to Owendale on April 13 at Keeneland. Back in February, the son of Scat Daddy won the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate, his third straight win.
13-Win Win Win (15-1): Trained by Michael Trombetta and ridden by Julien Pimentel, Win Win Win finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Hat Trick ran second to Vekoma in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 6 at Keeneland. He was third in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 9. And he set a track record in winning the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 19. Trombetta is a former Maryland Trainer of the Year.