Our Preakness probables and possibles piece ...

Last year, it was Mike McCarthy's Rombauer, who won the Preakness ... This year's edition on 21 May brings together a new group of 3-yr-olds. Who's coming? Check out this early take ...
Last year, it was Mike McCarthy's Rombauer, who won the Preakness ... This year's edition on 21 May brings together a new group of 3-yr-olds. Who's coming? Check out this early take ...

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1 3/16ths (Dirt) Preakness Stakes (G1), $1 million, 3 (Saturday 21 May)

The 147th running of the Preakness Stakes is on the clock ... Now, that a Derby Champion was crowned last Saturday, it is time to turn our attention to Pimlico Race Course, which once again hosts the 2nd jewel in the Triple Crown. Entries will be taken ... and as the field takes shape, we wanted to take a look at the "probables" and the "possibles" ... who will, and might be, shipping to Baltimore.

Here is what we know so far ...

Probable:

Epicenter (Jockey: J. Rosario / Trainer: S. Asmussen): As of Wednesday morning, it is now confirmed ... the son of Not This Time, owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, is coming to the Preakness. Evidently, the colt came out of the Derby in good order, and was working at Churchill. The ante-post wheels are turning, and I think it is fair to say that the rematch ... is on! With expert rider Joel Rosario, this combo will garner attention, especially after what many considered to be a "bad beat" in the 1st leg of the Triple Crown ... Entering the stretch run, the maroon and white silks looked as though they had the race in-hand ... It was a rail-skimming ride by Rich Strike that ended Asmussen's hopes for that elusive victory. The connections come to Pimlico hoping to improve on the Midnight Bourbon result from a year ago ... he did not hit-the-board. The Preakness just got much more interesting!

Rich Strike (Jockey: S. Leon / Trainer: E. Reed): The precocious colt is a bit of a "nipper," and some have wondered if he should have already been gelded ... young male horses act like this ... way it goes. What we do know is the former $30k claimer that came to Eric Reed's keep last fall from Joe Sharp's Barn ran the race of his life ... winning the Kentucky Derby. The media has delved into every nook and cranny, divulging some really intriguing stories about this horse's connections. He is the son of Keen Ice, who is the only runner to best American Pharoah as a 3-yr-old. He is confirmed to be heading to Baltimore with jockey Sonny Leon in-tow. The conditioner who was thrust into the limelight over the weekend, thinks his colt can go even longer. The Triple Crown only gets more interesting from here ... CONFIRMED, OUT OF THE PREAKNESS ...

Simplification (Jockey: J. Velazquez / Trainer: A. Sano): The 1st Thoroughbred to ship to Pimlico for the Preakness is this Tami Bobo-owned runner who "ran-on" in a big way ... ending up 4th in last week's celebrated race. The son of Not This Time made some waves during the Florida Series, and for a $50k purchase, he has already earned in excess of $665k ... not too bad. Bobo, who started as a groom, makes some impressive picks, and this one has the potential to be a "stayer" along the Triple Trail. Trainer Antonio Sano, who has his own "hard knocks" story, is going to pair with HOF jockey John Velazquez. Nice choice ... One to watch, as Preakness Week arrives!

Early Voting (Jockey: possibly J. Ortiz / Trainer: C. Brown): Trainer Chad Brown struck Preakness gold with Cloud Computing a few years back, and he is looking to do it again with this Klaravich-owned runner by stable sire, Gun Runner. Lightly-raced, the 3-yr-old has a trio of works at Belmont under his saddle, since he ran 2nd to Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial S. (G2). Brown specifically skipped the Derby, and made no bones that the signature race in Baltimore was his next target. A $200k purchase from the 2020 Keeneland September Sale, the red-lettered "KS" will be one of the major players, if the connections make the decision to ship. I would expect Jose Ortiz to get the call ... With only 3 career races, the sky looks to be the limit at this point. Brown may have had his Derby dreams dashed by a boxcar-priced horse last Saturday, but he always comes back reloaded.

Un Ojo (Jockey: possibly R. Vazquez / Trainer: R. Courville): A steady runner along the Derby Trail was this "one-eyed wonder," who delivered his own big shot for trainer Ricky Courville in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. At over 70/1 on the tote, and in a developing sleet storm, the colt by New York's Laoban was absolutely stellar. Unheralded rider, Ramon Vazquez asked the question at the top of the lane, and his colt responded in kind ... winning over a short-priced Baffert entry. Courville famously shipped his 3-yr-old to run in the Withers S. (G3) at Aqueduct, and his charge did not disappoint up there either. The Arkansas Derby (G1) and his subsequent foot issue that kept him out of KYD148, were disappointing, but it would be great to see this one run in the Preakness. Courville should stick with Vasquez too ... he deserves a shot on this big stage.

Secret Oath (Jockey: L. Saez / Trainer: D.W. Lukas): I erred, and thought that Wayne Lukas' talented filly had the starch taken out of her when she "took on the boys" in the Arky Derby (G1) at Oaklawn. That was a miss on my part ... I admit it ... The daughter of famed runner-sire Arrogate (whose life was cut way too short), came back impressively in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Ridden by Luis Saez, she ratcheted up the pressure rounding the final turn, and was much-the-best. Now, "Coach" has optioned to come to the Preakness with this filly, and pull-off what Steve Asmussen's Rachel Alexandra, and Kenny McPeek's Swiss Skydiver, once did ... win a Triple Crown race. What a race it will be ... 

Possible:

Rattle N Roll (Jockey: possibly B. Hernandez / Trainer: K. McPeek): Trainer Kenny McPeek just ruled out Smile Happy for the Preakness, but he still has other options. This "AE" from the Derby did not make it in ... Rich Strike did ... so, his conditioner has the option to bring him to the Preakness. This son of Connect, owned by Lucky Seven Stable, has already made some fine attempts in 7 career starts ... to the tune of $435k in earnings. The colt has yet to eclipse the run he made way back in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in October ... his last score. It is not for a lack of trying, when he shipped to the FOY (G2) at Gulfstream (6th), Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds (4th), and Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland (6th). All that speaks to a building of class, exudes confidence, and might make him a sleeper pick ... McPeek likes to use Brian Hernandez, and he might be the choice to ride.

Creative Minister (Jockey: possibly B. Hernandez / Trainer: K. McPeek): Here is the "other" possible McPeek option that is clearly the one with the least amount of class. However, if you watch that race he ran on the Derby undercard (Race 4), then you see some major potential. A colt by Creative Cause, he romped home in an AOC80kn2x going 1 1/16th on the MT. It was a driving victory by 2+ lengths with Brian Hernandez in the irons. McPeek said that this one would win in that spot, but do they really know? What can be said is that speed fig was quite a step forward, and that could mean that there is more to come. Entering the Preakness on short rest is never easy ... add in the class hike, and it could be a major ask. The colt has no "graded" experience in 3 lifetime starts. But remember ... anything is possible! Famous last words ...

Shake Em Loose (Jockey: C. Marquez / Trainer: R. Sanchez-Salomon): I always like to see a local Maryland runner come to the Preakness ... home team, and all that ... This year, we have a good candidate from the barn of Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon. Back in late December, the son of Shakin It Up entered his 1st "stakes" race and promptly won at odds of 59/1. What a flipped script ... Even though he failed to impress in his next attempt, the spring did bring one more nice victory in the Private Terms S. With all of these contests taking place at Laurel Park, he has not had the opportunity to run at Pimlico since his debut last August. I hope his trainer chooses to brave this Grade 1, and I will be anxious to see what his price will be come post time. Never underestimate these "Old Line" horses! They are just as capable ...

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** BE SURE TO JOIN US EVERY STEP OF THE WAY, AS WE FOLLOW THE TRIPLE CROWN TRAIL TO ITS CONCLUSION ...

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