The Preakness Stakes, normally run on the third weekend in May as the second leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, will instead take place this Saturday, becoming the final race in the 2020 series because of schedule changes related to the coronavirus pandemic.
There will be no Triple Crown on the line Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, because the Belmont Stakes winner, Tiz the Law, was upset by Authentic in the Kentucky Derby, which was run on Sept. 5 this year instead of the first Saturday in May as the second leg instead of the first. There will also be no rematch: Tiz the Law is sitting out the Preakness to rest for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7.
Still, there are story lines to follow, including Swiss Skydiver’s attempt to become only the sixth filly, and the first since Rachel Alexandra in 2009, to win the race in its 145 runnings. A win by Authentic or Thousand Words would give the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a record eight victories in the race.
The Preakness horses are listed below in order of post position, with comments by Joe Drape and Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times. The morning-line odds were set by Keith Feustle of Pimlico Race Course.
How to watch: Coverage on Saturday begins on NBC at 4:30 p.m., Eastern time. Coverage will also be streamed on NBC Sports Live.
Purse: $1.5 million guaranteed
Distance: 1 3/16 miles
Track record: 1 minute 52 ⅖ seconds (Farma Way, 1991)
Weight: 126 pounds
Post time: 5:40 p.m. Eastern
Joe Drape’s win-place-show picks: Art Collector, Swiss Skydiver, Mr. Big News
Melissa Hoppert’s picks: Art Collector, Authentic, Thousand Words
Here’s how we see the field:
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Sheldon Russell Odds: 30-1
Drape: This late runner’s best races are on wet, sloppy tracks. This long shot needs a deluge.
Hoppert: He will be making his first start since having a knee chip removed after a second-place finish in the Rebel Stakes in March. He has won once in nine career starts. Pass.
2. Mr. Big News
Trainer: W. Bret Calhoun Jockey: Gabriel Saez Odds: 12-1
Drape: He is the best closer in the field and is racing for the third time since returning to the track in July, the kind of circumstance that tends to brings out a peak performance. He has a chance.
Hoppert: He pulled off an upset in the Oaklawn Stakes in April, then finished sixth in the Blue Grass Stakes in July. Then he surprised again in the Kentucky Derby, finishing third. Not sure which horse will show up.
3. Art Collector
Trainer: Thomas Drury Jr. Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Odds: 5-2
Drape: Drury, a Louisville, Ky., native, scratched his talented colt the week before the Kentucky Derby because of a minor foot injury. That took guts; he will be rewarded for that decision here.
Hoppert: Unbeaten in four starts this year, Art Collector was among the favorites heading into the Derby when he was scratched because of a minor foot ailment. I can’t wait to see how he fares.
4. Swiss Skydiver
Trainer: Kenny McPeek Jockey: Robby Albarado Odds: 6-1
Drape: This filly has never run a bad race, and she finished second to Art Collector in the Blue Grass. I’m rooting for her.
Hoppert: She has run 10 races in her career, finishing in the money in nine of them, including in the Blue Grass, where she took second against the boys. But has this aggressive campaign taken a toll?
5. Thousand Words
Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: Florent Geroux Odds: 6-1
Drape: He finished nearly 30 lengths behind Mr. Big News in the Oaklawn Stakes and turned around and beat the talented Honor A.P. to win the Shared Belief Stakes. Which one shows up? Your guess is as good as mine.
Hoppert: It was a shame that he reared up in the paddock and had to be scratched from the Derby, because I was eager to see if he could build off his impressive wire-to-wire win in the Shared Belief. I know one thing for sure: Never count out a Baffert horse.
6. Jesus’ Team
Trainer: Jose Francisco D’Angelo Jockey: Jevian Toledo Odds: 30-1
Drape: This colt tries hard, but is getting into deeper water here. An upset is not likely.
Hoppert: The third-place finisher in the Jim Dandy Stakes in September, Jesus’ Team has taken on a lot of the Preakness horses already and has yet to close the deal.
7. Ny Traffic
Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Horacio Karamanos Odds: 15-1
Drape: This colt did not run a lick in the Derby, finishing a well-beaten eighth. He did work nicely this week. Up to you.
Hoppert: He has hit the board in seven of his 10 races, but his Derby performance did not exactly inspire confidence.
8. Max Player
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Paco Lopez Odds: 15-1
Drape: He finished third in the Belmont and the Travers Stakes, and fifth in the Derby. He tries hard enough to hit the board.
Hoppert: He is the only horse that will have run in all three Triple Crown races, and he has always been in the mix at the end.
Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: John Velazquez Odds: 9-5
Drape: Velazquez, a Hall of Fame jockey, rode this colt as if he were atop a rocket in the Derby. What did that performance take out of him?
Hoppert: Ahead of the Derby, Authentic was inconsistent, showing signs of immaturity and distance limitations, but then he upset the favored Tiz the Law. With Art Collector back in the mix, there are still too many question marks to anoint Authentic a sure thing.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Joe Bravo Odds: 20-1
Drape: This colt has won three of his five career races but is perhaps a cut below the Preakness competition.
Hoppert: After running fourth in the Belmont in June, he won the Pegasus Stakes in August, with a career-best speed figure. He also has a trainer who knows how to hit the board in big races.
Trainer: Jorge R. Abreu Jockey: Trevor McCarthy Odds: 30-1
Drape: Another horse that is getting better, but is not up to passing many in this field.
Hoppert: He rallied to finish second in the Jim Dandy, but he probably isn’t good enough to repeat that effort here.