It is shaping up to be a much smaller field for the Preakness than we saw in the Kentucky Derby - potentially much, much smaller. All that matters, though, is that American Pharoah is, barring injury, headed to Baltimore and ready to take his next step towards history. Here are the horses he is sure to face in the Preakness and others that are potential foes:
American Pharoah: Not surprisingly, the impressive Derby winner is being pointed to the Preakness. The plan is for him to stay in Kentucky until next Wednesday and then head to Baltimore for a brief stop. His last race took more out of him than any he has run, but there is still no reason to think that we will see anything less from his best here - and that's scary for his opponents.
Firing Line: Firing Line wound up right behind American Pharoah in the Derby, and he'll be right behind him in the same flight to Maryland. He ran a spectacular race in Kentucky and came out of it as well as a horse can by all reports. He finally got past Dortmund after losing to him by a neck twice before. Can he get past American Pharoah this time?
Dortmund: It has come out that Dortmund almost didn't make it to the Derby because he suffered mild colic-like symptoms after his last workout. He recovered enough to run, but it's quite possible he wasn't at his best in the Derby. He's a very good horse, though, and overlooking him in the Preakness would be a big mistake.
Divining Rod: This horse won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 11. That is theoretically a minor Derby prep, but it rarely gets used for that purpose anymore. Right after that race the horse returned to his training base in Maryland to prepare for this race. It's a big step up in class, but he's probably the best of the new runners.
Danzig Moon: The horse finished fifth in the Derby and looked pretty good doing it. It was no fluke, either - he was easy to like as a long shot heading into the Derby. He is being aimed at the Queen's Plate, which is Canada's Derby equivalent, on July 5 because he is a Canadian-bred. He has time for a race before then, though, and this could be as good of a spot as any.
The Pletcher gang: Todd Pletcher could run as many as four horses in this race, though I would be shocked if we see more than one or two. Two are Derby horses. Materiality got a horrible jump out of the gate, and as a frontrunner his race was over before it started. He rallied for sixth but should have more in him. Carpe Diem, meanwhile, had less of an excuse and ran a worse race. Joining them on the list of possibilities is Stanford, who was entered in the Derby but then scratched because his connections didn't think he was up for the challenge. Finally, Competitive Edge won the Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard and could take a step up here. I didn't love how he looked in the gallop out after crossing the finish line, though, so I'm not sure that this is an ideal spot for the undefeated colt.
Mr. Z: He was 13th in the Derby, but his trip was lousy. It's hard to imagine it mattered, though - he has run 13 times and has lost the last 12. He is owned by Zayat Stables, who also own American Pharoah. They don't want to run him in the Preakness, but trainer D. Wayne Lukas is pushing hard for it to happen. My bet is that the owners win this one, but we'll see for sure.
Bodhisattva: This horse won the Federico Tesio Stakes, which is traditionally a Preakness prep. He was entered in a minor stakes at Parx in Philadelphia last weekend but was scratched to be ready for the Preakness. It's hard to take him too seriously, but stranger things have happened.
Lemon Drop Title: Dallas Stewart is a trainer who fears little. This horse won his maiden race just last weekend at Churchill Downs and has started only three times, but Stewart says that this spot is a possibility. This seems like an odd spot for him, but his sire is Belmont winner Lemon Drop Kid and his dam sire is Derby winner Monarchos, so he has some Triple Crown credibility in his blood.
Tale of Verve: Stewart is at it again. When the entries were in for the Derby, this horse, who just broke his maiden at Keeneland, was an also-eligible. It was a shock. Now he is a possible at the Preakness, though he is more likely to show up in the Belmont if anywhere.
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