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The 146th running of the Preakness Stakes (Grade I), the second jewel of the Triple Crown, is set for Saturday, May 15, 2021 at historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.
Medina Spirit (Zedan Racing Stables), who upset 18 rivals in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs at 12-1, was installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) following Tuesday's post-position draw at Pimlico Race Course.
The son of Protonico, who drew Post. No. 3, is scheduled to face nine other 3-year-olds in the 1 3/16-mile Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard for Medina Spirit's front-running half-length decision at Churchill Downs, was awarded the return mount Saturday by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Preakness a record seven times, most notably with Triple Crown champions American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).
Gary and Mary West's Concert Tour, who incurred his first loss in four starts while finishing third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn last time out, will also represent Baffert in the Preakness after skipping the Kentucky Derby. The homebred son of Street Sense, who will be ridden by Mike Smith for the first time, was rated second in the morning line at 5-2 after drawing Post. No. 10.
The $1 million Preakness will headline a program with 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.25 million in purses.
Race 13 at Pimlico on Saturday, May 15 - Post 6:47 PM
|1||Ram||30-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.
|3||Medina Spirit||9-5||John Velazquez
|4||Crowded Trade||10-1||Javier Castellano
|5||Midnight Bourbon||5-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|7||France Go de Ina||20-1||Joel Rosario
|8||Unbridled Honor||15-1||Luis Saez
|9||Risk Taking||15-1||Jose Ortiz
|10||Concert Tour||5-2||Mike Smith
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC's Midnight Bourbon will remain on the Triple Crown Trail Saturday after finishing a troubled sixth in the Kentucky Derby, 8 ½ lengths behind Medina Spirit. The son of Tiznow is rated third in the morning line at 5-1 and will break from Post No. 5.
Midnight Bourbon finished second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds prior to his Derby run. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has enjoyed success in the Preakness Stakes twice, saddling Curlin and filly Rachel Alexandra for victories in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Irad Ortiz Jr., the defending three-time Eclipse Award winner, is scheduled to ride Midnight Bourbon for the first time.
Trainer Chad Brown, who won the 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing, will saddle Klaravich Stables Inc.'s Crowded Trade and Risk Taking in search of his second success in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.Crowded Trade, who finished third in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct last time out, is rated at 10-1 in the morning line, while Risk Taking, who won the Withers (G3) before finishing a disappointing seventh in the Wood Memorial, is rated at 15-1. Crowded Trade drew Post No. 4, while Risk Taking will break from Post No. 9.
John and Diane Fradkin's Rombauer, who most recently finished third in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, has been shipped from Southern California for the Preakness. The son of Twirling Candy, who is rated at 12-1 in the morning line, earned a fees-paid berth in the Preakness Stakes by capturing the `Win & In' El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 13. Rombauer will break from Post No. 6
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, will seek his first Preakness Stakes victory with Whisper Hill Farm LLC's Unbridled Honor. The son of Honor Code, who finished second in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland last time out, was rated at 15-1 in the morning line after drawing Post No. 8.
Keepmeinmind (Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm LLC) will join Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon as the only horses in the Preakness starting gate that ran in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Laoban trailed the Derby field before closing well to finish seventh. The Robertino Diodoro-trained colt, who has been winless in three starts this year after winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill last fall, is rated at 15-1 in the morning line and will break from Post. No. 2.
Yuji Inaida's France Go de Ina, who raced three times in Japan before finishing sixth in the March 27 UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai, is rated at 20-1 in the Preakness morning line and will break from Post No. 7. The son of Will Take Charge will go to post in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown five years after Japan-based Lani finished fifth in 2016.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has saddled six Preakness winners during his Hall of Fame career, will be represented in Preakness 146 by Ram, who is slated to make his stakes debut following back-to-back victories in a $50,000 maiden claiming race at Oaklawn Park and an allowance race at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Christina Baker and William Mack's son of American Pharoah was rated at 30-1 in the morning line after drawing the Post No. 1.
Zedan Racing Stables' racing manager and bloodstock consultant Gary Young, Medina Spirit (Post No. 3; 9-5): "Post 3 won't win the race for him and it won't lose the race for him. We anticipate that he and Concert Tour will be 1-2 early in the race. One will be in front, one is probably going to be second - unless someone alters their plan totally. And may the best horse win, whether it be one of those two horses or one of the other eight."
Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, Concert Tour (Post No. 10; 5-2) and Medina Spirit: "He's a speed horse so he will get out of there and get a position and be on the outside somewhere. I think we're fine with both our positions. They are both front-running horses, so they will probably will be up there in the clear, hopefully. He's one that is placed forwardly in the racing. Being on the outside should be fine."
Trainer Steve Asmussen, Midnight Bourbon (Post No. 5; 5-1): "Good draw. With dual loading, he's second-to-last to load. Middle of the field. Good run to the first turn. Obviously, post-position draw in a 10-horse field is half as important as in a 20-horse field, but I think it gives you all the options you would ever have wanted with a talented horse."
Trainer Chad Brown, Crowded Trade (Post No. 4; 10-1) and Risk Taking (Post No. 9; 15-1): "No major complaints. Crowded I thought drew well. I preferred him to be inside Risk Taking so at least that is accomplished. Risk Taking is out there a little bit, but there looks like there is enough speed in the race that, hopefully, the field gets strung out a little before the first turn and he can drop in. Just let Jose (Ortiz) work out his trip from there".
Trainer Michael McCarthy, Rombauer (Post No. 6; 12-1): "It's a good draw. A medium field size makes it easier to find our spot heading into the first turn."
Trainer Robertino Diodoro, Keepmeinmind (Post No. 2; 15-1): "I like it. I think with his [closing] running style, the post doesn't matter a whole bunch. But at the same time, at least we don't have to worry about getting hung out in the middle of the racetrack, which can sometimes happen with an outside post. So I'm more than happy with the `2.'"
Trainer Todd Pletcher, Unbridled Honor (Post No. 8; 15-1): "I'm pleased with the `8.'"
Trainer Hideyuki Mori, France Go de Ina (Post No. 7; 20-1): "It's good. He is not too far to the inside, but he also is not too far to the outside. Right before they called the No. 7, I said `That's the one I want.' And they called France Go de Ina. I could not be happier with it."
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Midnight Bourbon had the easy workout typical of a Steve Asmussen-trained horse five days before a race, covering the half-mile distance in 50.20 seconds at Churchill Downs on Monday morning. The Kentucky Derby (G1) sixth-place finisher is scheduled to van to Pimlico Race Course early Tuesday for a scheduled start in Saturday's 146th Preakness Stakes (G1).
"He's doing great, wonderful physically. I'm excited to run him in the Preakness," said Asmussen, who was scheduled to take an early evening flight Monday to Baltimore. "This morning, I watched Midnight Bourbon work. He's just such a beautiful specimen and he goes over the racetrack so pretty. Driving back to the barn from the grandstand, I was thinking how crazy we are as horsemen. It's only less than two weeks from the disappointment of the Derby, and here I am, thinking I'm going to win a classic again and I get all giddy."
Midnight Bourbon, who finished second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) after pressing the pace, was bumped leaving the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby and was far back early before closing steadily while racing four wide.
"It was such a great feeling in this year's Derby being able to run (Arkansas Derby (G1) winner) Super Stock for my parents and Erv Woolsey and Midnight Bourbon for Ron Winchell. Midnight Bourbon is a big feeler, so I led him over for the Derby and that was as great a feeling as I've had: to be able to physically lead one over for the Derby, and how exciting that was," Asmussen said. "We had disappointing results in the race. He didn't get away from the gate the way we wanted. You walk back and you're disappointed and stuff. And here we are less than two weeks later and we're all jazzed up, ready to go to Baltimore and we love our chances. Very fortunate to have these chances and horses of this caliber. I'm very optimistic going to Baltimore."
Asmussen, who saddled Curlin (2007) and filly Rachel Alexandra (2009) for Preakness victories, said he will again be on the shank leading Midnight Bourbon from the stakes barn to be saddled for the Preakness.
"Yeah, I'm going to lead Bourbon over," he said. "He's just a lot of horse, and I'm probably the biggest guy in the barn."
Irad Ortiz Jr. is scheduled to ride Midnight Bourbon for the first time Saturday.
Trainer Robertino Diodoro was on hand at Churchill Downs to watch Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm LLC's Keepmeinmind prance through a very controlled gallop at Churchill Downs Monday morning in preparation for a scheduled start in Saturday's Preakness Stakes (G1).
"He looked very strong. He's been like that the last two days," said Diodoro, who had spent several days back home in Arkansas. "They were sending me some videos. It seems like he's full of himself, that's for sure. I'm very happy with him. One thing I keep saying about him running back so quick, his running style - if there's such a thing that suits that - he only runs the last three-eighths of a mile, where some of these other horses are battling up there in front and close to the pace. They run a lot harder race. This guy runs three-eighths of a mile. He's definitely bounced back very well."
Keepmeinmind, who is scheduled to van to Pimlico Race Course early Tuesday, trailed the Kentucky Derby (G1) field early following a very slow start and closed strongly to finish seventh.
Keepmeinmind burst on the scene last year when, after finishing second in his debut, he was second again in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) behind eventual 2-year-old champion Essential Quality at Keeneland. He then was third at 30-1 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) behind Essential Quality and future Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Hot Rod Charlie. The son of Laoban then capped his 2020 season by taking Churchill Downs' Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).
This year, things have not gone so swimmingly, with bad weather wreaking havoc with Oaklawn Park's stakes schedule and training. Keepmeinmind made his 3-year-old debut in the March 13 Rebel (G2), finishing sixth as Preakness candidate Concert Tour romped to victory. Running back in Keeneland's Blue Grass (G2), Keepmeinmind came in fifth, beaten 16 lengths to triumphant Essential Quality. Given a crack at the Derby, Keepmeinmind closed from last and far back while forced eight wide on the far turn to finish seventh.
"Everything has gone sideways for him ever since January," Diodoro said. "I feel like he's finally back on track. The Derby, yeah, you don't want to be happy with seventh. But we got him to relax, got him to get back to his old running style. He's bounced back, trained great. I just feel he's getting back on course. The last four weeks it just seems like he's back on his railroad tracks. Just have to keep him healthy and happy to Saturday and hopefully everything goes well with the ship and stuff."
The trainer said he's looking forward to giving Keepmeinmind another chance in the Preakness.
"Horses can't read odds," Diodoro said. "People might think I'm nuts when we're 40-, 50-1. But I'm feeling very confident with this horse. Hate to keep using the word excuse, but he's had lots of excuses. Probably the last four, five weeks, when we're supposed to work, we get to work. When he's supposed to jog, he gets to jog. Before, it seemed like it was a 10-month ordeal, even though it was only two, three months. But every time we went to do something, something was getting changed on us. The last five weeks, every day of training, what he's supposed to do is what he gets to do. I just feel that everything is lining up for him now."
Diodoro planned to drive to Baltimore Monday afternoon.
Yuji Inaida's France Go de Ina had Pimlico Race Course all to himself Monday morning. After arriving on Saturday night, the Japanese invader got his first look at the racetrack at 10:15 a.m.
The expected longshot in Saturday's 146th Preakness Stakes (G1), got his first look at the track when he and exercise rider Masaki Takano came on the track after regular training hours in accordance with quarantine regulations. They walked a lap around the track the opposite way and then jogged around the right way another time. Then it was back to the quarantine barn, which is a few barns away from the stakes barn.
"He just stretched his legs," said Kate Hunter the Preakness field representative for the Japan Racing Association. "It was pretty easy because there were no other horses around. He was able to relax, check everything out and see everything really well because it was nice and sunny. He seemed very relaxed."
France Go de Ina, who was bred in Kentucky, is a son of Will Take Charge.
According to Hunter, trainer Hideyuki Mori flew into Dulles International Airport Monday morning and was due to be at the barn to check on his horse Monday afternoon.
France Go de Ina has two wins in four career starts. In his last race, he finished sixth, beaten 10 ½ lengths, in the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai. Jockey Joel Rosario, who rode him in that race, will be on board in the Preakness.
"I would assume so," Hunter said when asked if she thought France Go de Ina would be a long price on Preakness Day. "Our dirt horses are not as good as our turf horses, but (Mori) would not be here if he didn't think he had a shot at it."
Original hopes were that France Go de Ina might run in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but he lost any chance of getting qualifying points when he missed the break and finished sixth in the UAE Derby.
"The moment that race broke, I said, `Hey, if you want to try the other two legs of the Triple Crown, you're nominated, so we can go for it if you want to,'" Hunter said. "When the horse came out of the UAE Derby OK, that's what (Mori) decided to do."
Hunter has lived outside of Tokyo for the last 13 years and is a Triple Crown recruiting agent. She said she also works for the Breeders' Cup and Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky.
She said she also works "a little" on a contract basis with The Stronach Group and the New York Racing Association. She is originally from Nashville, Tenn.
Hunter said France Go de Ina's entourage also includes a photographer in addition to Mori and Takano, who also serves as assistant trainer and groom.
"We want to make sure he is fit and sound and ready to go," Hunter said, "and, hopefully, kick a little American-trained butt."
Five weeks after his Preakness prospect Risk Taking turned in a poor performance as the favorite in the Wood Memorial (G2), trainer Chad Brown said he is unable to explain what went wrong on April 3 at Aqueduct.
"I don't really know," Brown said "That's both good and bad. I'd like to know, but at the same time he looks so well."
Late last week Brown and Seth Klarman, the owner of Klaravich Stables, decided to scratch Risk Taking from the Peter Pan (G3) on Saturday at Belmont Park and put him in the mix for the 146th Preakness. Brown and Klaravich already had Crowded Trade headed to the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown and will enter the pair on Tuesday.
Risk Taking, a son of Medaglia d'Oro, was the 2-1 favorite in the nine-horse Wood following this 3 ¼-length victory in the Withers (G3) on Feb. 6. He bobbled at the start of the Wood, never got any closer than 3 ½ lengths from the lead and ended up seventh, beaten 6 ¾ lengths by upset winner Bourbonic.
"He came back with a ton of dirt and mud stuck in his blinkers," Brown said. "I don't know if he just caught so much dirt that day. He's taken dirt before and run on to it. I hate to make that excuse, but that's the only thing that (jockey) Irad (Ortiz Jr.) could really say, that he was taking a lot of dirt. It was really caked in there in his blinkers and maybe he just really got discouraged and quit. That's really all I can come up with. The horse looks good physically. He scoped fine. I don't think it was necessarily a bad trip. It was just a dirty trip."
Jose Ortiz will ride the colt in the Preakness. Javier Castellano will be aboard Crowded Trade. The Brown horses are scheduled to ship from New York to Baltimore on Tuesday.
Zedan Racing Stable's Medina Spirit and Gary and Mary West's Concert Tour left Churchill Downs on a Pimlico Race Course-bound van at 4 a.m. and arrived shortly before 3 p.m.
Christina Baker and William Mack's Ram left Churchill Downs for Pimlico at 5 a.m, arriving in early afternoon.
Whisper Hill Farm LLC's Unbridled Honor is scheduled to van from Belmont Park to Pimlico Tuesday, when John and Diane Fradkin's Rombauer is slated to fly coast-to-coast from Santa Anita to Pimlico.
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