Coming off his upset victory over Tiz the Law in the Kentucky Derby, Authentic will go into Saturday’s Preakness Stakes as a 9-5 favorite in the morning line with a chance to make history for trainer Bob Baffert.
If Authentic finishes at the head of an 11-horse field at Pimlico Race Course, he’ll give Baffert his eighth Preakness victory, which would break a tie with 18th-century trainer R. Wyndham Walden for the all-time record.
Authentic will start outside from the No. 9 post, much as he did in the Derby. Jockey John Velazquez, who rode him for the first time in that victory, expects the race to unfold similarly.
“Even if he breaks a little slow, he’s fast enough that he’ll be on the lead sooner or later,” Velazquez said in a video interview after Monday’s post-position draw at Pimlico Race Course.
The Hall of Fame jockey will try to win his first Preakness aboard the Derby champ. “I’ve been chasing the race for quite a bit,” he said.
With Tiz the Law skipping the Preakness to rest up for the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Authentic is the most accomplished horse competing in the third leg of the Triple Crown series. But he’ll face a fresh challenge from Art Collector, who would have been a co-second choice in the morning line at the Derby if trainer Tommy Drury had not scratched him because of a minor heal injury. Art Collector, undefeated in four starts this year, is second choice in the morning line for the Preakness at 5-2 odds and will start from the No. 3 post.
“I think it’s a good race,” Drury said. “When you get to this level, you can make a case for all of them. On any day, any of these horses can jump up and run a big race. You can see that from top to bottom.”
Baffert’s other entry, Thousand Words, is co-third choice in the morning line at 6-1. He’s bit of a mystery after he flipped over in the paddock before the Derby and had to be scratched from the race by an onsite veterinarian. But Baffert said Thousand Words came out of that spill unscathed and appears ready to match his form from the Aug. 1 Shared Belief Stakes, where he upset Honor A.P. in a career-best performance. He’ll start from the No. 5 post.
Kenny McPeek-trained filly Swiss Skydiver will give the boys a challenge after finishing second in the Kentucky Oaks to Shedaresthedevil. She’s won four graded stakes this year and finished second to Art Collector in the Blue Grass Stakes the last time she competed against a predominantly male field. She’s a 6-1 shot in the morning line and will start from No. 4 post.
Swiss Skydiver will be the 55th filly to compete in the Preakness; Rachel Alexandra was the last to win it, in 2009.
“I think if she wins a race like this you’ve got to include her possible Horse of the Year,” McPeek said. “She’s danced every dance and she’s been hickory and she had entertained the fan base like probably no filly in years. I think it’s a chance to make history.”
Mr. Big News hasn’t received much attention since his surprise third-place finish in the Derby. But trainer Bret Calhoun has pointed him toward the Preakness all along, and he’s a 12-1 fifth choice in the morning line. He’ll start from the No. 2 post.
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. decided to enter NY Traffic in the Preakness after a sharp workout Sunday morning at Churchill Downs. The eighth-place Derby finisher will go in as a 15-1 choice in the morning line and start from the No. 7 post.
Trainer Steve Asmussen will bring three horses to Baltimore as he attempts to win his third Preakness (he previously took the race with Curlin in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009).
Max Player finished fifth in the Derby in his first race under Asmussen’s care after finishing third in the Belmont for previous trainer Linda Rice. He’s a 15-1 choice in the morning line and will start from the No. 8 post. Asmussen praised Max Player as “very talented” and said he struggled to overcome his inside post position in the Derby, an obstacle he will not face in the Preakness.
Pneumatic finished fourth for Asmussen in the June 20 Belmont Stakes and came back to win the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park in August. He’s a 20-1 choice in the morning line and will start from the No. 10 post.
Asmussen’s third contender, Excession, will take his shot at the Preakness off a near-seven-month break because of knee surgery. He finished second in the March 14 Rebel Stakes the last time he ran. He’s a 30-1 shot in the morning line and will start from the No. 1 post.
Liveyourbeastlife will also give the Preakness a shot after finishing runner-up in the Sept. 5 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. He’s a 30-1 choice in the morning line coming off that career-best performance and will start from the No. 11 post.
Rounding out the field is 30-1 shot Jesus’ Team, who became the first Preakness contender to arrive at Pimlico on Sunday afternoon. He finished second to Pneumatic in the Pegasus Stakes and third in the Jim Dandy and will start from the No. 6 post.
At Pimlico Race Course
Saturday, 6:45 p.m. EDT
Post; Horse; Jockey; Odds
1; Excession; Sheldon Russell; 30-1
2; Mr. Big News; Gabriel Saez; 12-1
3; Art Collector; Brian Hernandez Jr.; 5-2
4; Swiss Skydiver; Robby Albarado; 6-1
5; Thousand Words; Florent Geroux; 6-1
6; Jesus’ Team; Jevian Toledo; 30-1
7; NY Traffic; Horacio Karamanos; 15-1
8; Max Player; Paco Lopez; 15-1
9; Authentic; John Velazquez; 9-5
10; Pneumatic; Joe Bravo; 20-1
11; Liveyourbeastlife; Trevor McCarthy; 30-1
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