The field for the Preakness is in flux as I write this about 10 days out from the second jewel of the Triple Crown. There could be as many as 13 horses, though only four have been confirmed at this point, and it seems more likely that we'll see about eight enter the starting gate. Of the potential entrants, there are six horses that can win the Preakness:
Last time out: He was the impressive winner of the Kentucky Derby. He settled off the slow early pace and then came out on top in a thrilling three-way duel with Firing Line and stablemate Dortmund.
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Why he can win: The super horse won the Kentucky Derby, and it was an impressive performance, so why can't he win the Preakness, too? It's a shorter race against a smaller, much shallower field. He was incredibly hyped heading into the Derby but more than lived up to it. He's versatile and incredibly-talented, and we haven't yet seen all he has to give.
Last time out: He was second in the Derby. He pushed the pace set by Dortmund early on, spending a lot of time about three wide. When the horses entered the stretch he briefly passed Dortmund to take the lead but then couldn't hold on when American Pharoah came charging.
Why he can win: All you have to do to really respect this horse is think about his last four races. First, he was second to Dortmund twice in a row but lost by just a head both times. Then he avoided that rival by heading to the Sunland Derby in New Mexico, which he won by more than 14 lengths. Then in the Derby he bested Dortmund and gave American Pharoah the biggest test he has faced. He is a legitimate horse who is going to get a big win or two before he is done.
Last time out: Someone had to set the pace in the Derby, and that responsibility fell to Dortmund. He was able to establish modest fractions but was bested by the top two finishers in the stretch. He held on soundly, though, and managed to not be passed by fourth-place finisher Frosted.
Why he can win: Some horse had to set the pace in the Derby, and Dortmund was the one. Maybe that wasn't ideal for him. More significantly, though, it has come out that he suffered colic-like symptoms after his last workout. He may not have been at full strength in the Derby. He still ran a strong race, though, and there is no doubt that he is strong enough and talented enough to win a Triple Crown race.
Last time out: He was a dismal 10th in the Derby. He settled in the second group early on and looked to be in a fine position. He lacked spark, though, and consistently looked to fade as things continued. When asked for a final charge, he had nothing to give.
Why he can win: Sometimes you just have to give a horse a total mulligan for a race. His performance was dismal, but he has proven before to be much better than that, and we should see the better horse at some point this spring or summer. At his best he should have been a top three talent in the Derby. The top two delivered. Can this horse have his turn now?
Last time out: He was fifth in the Derby. He endured brutal early contact with Bolo out of the gate but overcame it far better than that horse. He was in the same group as Carpe Diem early on before mounting a charge around the final turn. He ultimately didn't have enough in the tank, though, and held on for fifth.
Why he can win: This horse quietly keeps getting better. He ran a nice race in the Derby and would have been better if the race were slightly shorter - just like the Preakness is. His breeding is excellent, and his connections are solid. He would have to have his best day on a day when the others faltered, but he is a closer in a field of excellent front-runners, so perhaps a strong early pace could set him up well.
Last time out: He was the winner of the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 11. That is theoretically a Derby prep race but not a major one. He rated just off the early pace, moved to the lead in the stretch, and won easily. The field was not strong, but he looked good.
Why he can win: The horse looked good last time out - albeit against far lesser competition than he faces here. He has since been training just for this race, and he has worked well. He was a horse that took a while to find his best, but he's maturing before our eyes, and his best race is still ahead of him.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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