After a hugely eventful weekend at Churchill Downs, culminating in the shock win for Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby, the attention will soon turn to the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
This year’s race looks like a wide open affair based on what we saw in the opening Triple Crown race in early May. However, which horses could be among the leading contenders in the Preakness Stakes odds?
What a weekend Eric Reed and Sonny Liston had at Churchill Downs. When the trainer and jockey would have woken up on Kentucky Derby day, neither would have believed how their day would play out.
Rich Strike was called up to the race at the eleventh hour following Ethereal Road’s decision to pull out. However, even then, not many experts gave Rich Strike much of a chance when it came to winning the race. He lined up as a reserve after finishing third in the G3 Jeff Ruby and fourth in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes.
Both runs on the all-weather did little to see much support in his chances, but he was excellent when the pressure was on in the big Triple Crown opener. He produced a stunning late effort to from nearly last to win the Kentucky Derby.
Rich Strike’s late rally caught Epicenter and Zandon off-guard, with Epicenter’s defeat meaning that Steve Asmussen’s poor record in the Derby continued. Rich Strike will be much shorter than his price of 80/1 for the Preakness, and he could improve once again.
You had to feel for Asmussen and Epicenter in the Kentucky Derby, as it looked as though the three-year-old was given the perfect ride by Joel Rosario. However, he was eventually beaten by three-quarters of a length from the shock winner.
Many argued that the three-year-old still solidified his claims as the best three-year-old in the U.S., as he would have won the race had it not been for Ethereal Road’s late scratch. He travelled extremely strong throughout the race at Churchill Downs, but couldn’t hold on when challenged by the eventual shock winner.
It has already been reported that we could see the three-year-old travel to Pimlico for the second leg of the Triple Crown, and the slightly shorter distance in the Preakness Stakes could suit him down to the ground. But, it’s likely that a final decision will be made over the next seven days depending on Epicenter’s condition following a hard-fought race at Churchill Downs.
There was always a belief that Secret Oath was going to be pointed towards the Kentucky Derby this year, but her third in the Arkansas Derby meant that eventually the Oaks needed to be the end goal.
However, it was a fantastic training feat by the legendary D. Wayne Lukas to get this three-year-old in fantastic shape to win the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. Many questioned whether she would get the win following the draw, as she was handed the rail. But, she was in fine form in the Oaks, as she finished two lengths clear of Nest.
That was a second stakes win in female company for Secret Oath, and highlighted that there were no lingering issues following her run against the boys in the Arkansas Derby.
Swiss Skydiver showed that the Preakness is a race that the fillies can target, and it would make for fascinating viewing should we see Secret Oath lining up at Pimlico in the second Triple Crown race of the year. It would be hard to completely rule out her chances of victory.
Due to the quick turnaround between the two Triple Crown races, it may be worthwhile looking at contenders that didn’t line up at Churchill Downs. One of the most popular selections in that regard may be Early Voting for trainer Chad Brown.
The decision was made to bypass the Kentucky Derby seven days before the race, as connections instead opted for a bid to win the Preakness Stakes.
He should have strong claims based on his form to this point, as his only defeat was by a neck behind Mo Donegal in the G2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
Before that narrow defeat, the three-year-old had won in Grade 3 company, as he claimed victory in the G3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. That was a dominant success, as he finished over four lengths clear of Un Ojo.
Early Voting will come into the Preakness very fresh, as Brown looks for a second winner in the Triple Crown race.