By Neil Monnery

Could Charlatan or Gamine step up for the Preakness Stakes?

By Neil Monnery
Could Bob Baffert have a big say in the Preakness?
Could Bob Baffert have a big say in the Preakness?

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Following the news that Tiz the Law is now 1/1 for the Kentucky Derby with his nearest two competitors priced up at 8/1, it got me thinking about what needs to happen to stop Barclay Tagg’s horse from claiming the Triple Crown in this most strange of Horse Racing seasons.

Now of course winning the Derby itself isn’t a fait accompli. I still like Art Collector to at least give Tiz the Law a real race and you never know who else may emerge from the pack but at this point he’s surely going off as a very heavy favorite. A win at Churchill Downs will mean two-thirds of the Triple Crown will be ticked off. The big question apart from him keeping up his top form would be is there another horse who isn’t set for the Derby who could potentially run in - and win - the Preakness? 

The answer is Yes, two of them.

For all the bad luck Bob Baffert has dealt with in this three-year-old season he has had one shining star and that is Gamine. The superstar daughter of Into Mischief looks to be a horse for the ages who could feasibly match-up with any of the top three-year-old colts.

Blistering wins at the Grade I Acorn and the Grade I Test Stakes have left us all wanting more. Some of us would even like to see if there was a way to get her into the Derby but her trainer and owners have been steadfast in that they are looking to the Oaks but they haven’t ruled out the Preakness. A win around two turns on the Friday of Derby week against a quality field including Swiss Skydiver would surely escalate the calls for Gamine to step up and into the Preakness field.

The other horse who could possibly make his way into the starting gate at Pimlico and contend is another from the Bob Baffert stable, one who has shared many a headline in the past couple of months.

When two Baffert horses tested positive at Oaklawn Park for having too much lidocaine in their blood, they were Gamine and Charlatan. Both have subsequently been disqualified from their wins that weekend but Charlatan has also been out with an injury. Getting him ready for the Derby wasn’t viable in the timescales they had but with the extra four weeks between then and the Preakness, could this be a reasonable hope? Baffert seems to think it is doubtful after initially not ruling it out but hope springs eternal. Even if he isn't ready, Gamine should be.

With the probability of College Football being punted into the spring at best this week, it would mean that the Preakness would have added attention in the fall. With potentially no other team sports (well Major League Baseball could theoretically still be going but that is not looking great with its handling of the pandemic) but the Preakness could be the only game in town that Saturday.

I get there’s a possibility of the NFL moving games to Saturday’s if college is taken away but even if so, this Horse Race could be the most watched Preakness in an awfully long time. As it stands Tiz the Law would surely go off as favorite but if either Charlatan or Gamine or better yet - both of them - step up then the Preakness becomes a whole lot more interesting a contest.

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