Rich Strike, the 80-1 shooter ridden by Sonny Leon and coached by Eric Reed, staged a furious and unlikely rally to win the 148th Kentucky Derby on May 7. He wasn’t even in the field until another horse was taken out the day before the race.
But after initially steering the colt to the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, owner Rich Strike said last week that the horse would skip the Preakness and race in the Belmont Stakes on June 11 instead. There won’t be a triple crown on the line, but there will certainly be plenty of drama, with Kentucky Oaks-winning filly Secret Oath taking on the boys, including Derby runner-up Epicenter.
Below, the Preakness horses are listed in post order, with commentary from Joe Drape and Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times. Morning line odds were set by Keith Feustle of Pimlico Racecourse.
How to watch: Saturday coverage begins on CNBC at 2 p.m. EST and moves to NBC at 4 p.m. Coverage will also air on NBCSports.com.
Bag: $1.5 million guaranteed
Distance: 1 3/16 miles
Background: 1 minute 52⅖ seconds (Farma Way, 1991)
Mass: 126 pounds
Post time: 7:01 p.m. Eastern Time
Joe Drape’s winning picks: Secret Oath, Epicenter, Early Voting
Melissa Hoppert’s picks: Advance voting, epicenter, secret oath
This is how we see the terrain:
Coach: Antonio Sano Jockey: John Velazquez Odds: 6-1
Drape: This colt was running late in the Derby and finished fourth, but is unlikely to get the fast pace that sets up his late kick.
Hopper: He’s hit the board in six of eight races and appears to be thriving at Pimlico. But Jose Ortiz, who has been on it in his last three starts, thinks he has a better chance with Early Voting and has opted to ride it instead.
2. Creative Minister
Coach: Kenny McPeek Jockey:Brian Hernandez Jr. Odds: 10-1
Drape: This latecomer showed improvement in each of his three starts, two of which were wins. Another step forward puts him in the hunt.
Hopper: His first race was in March, and it will be his stakes debut. But his owners believe in him enough to have paid an extra $150,000 to make him eligible for the last two Triple Crown races. You might as well try your luck too and throw it in your exotics.
Coach: Kevin McKathan Jockey: Florent Geroux Odds: 50-1
Drape: His only victory in six starts came when he broke down hard and led every step of the way. He is most likely the leader.
Hopper: The Blue Grass runner-up, 11th, is a son of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin. But that’s about all it has going for it.
4. Secret Oath
Coach: D. Wayne Lukas Jockey: Luis Saez Odds: 9-2
Drape: This filly showed she belonged with the boys, finishing third in the Arkansas Derby despite a horrific trip. The choice.
Hopper: No rich strike? No problem. The Kentucky Oaks winner has a good chance of becoming the seventh filly to win the Preakness, which would give Lukas a record seven Preakness wins.
5. Early Voting
Coach: Chad Brown Jockey: Jose Ortiz Odds: 7-2
Drape: It is lightly run and quick of foot. This colt is not impossible.
Hopper: The second from Wood Memorial rounded the Derby to point towards the Preakness. Brown and colt owner Seth Klarman have used this playbook before with 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing.
6. Happy Jack
Coach: Doug O’Neill Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione Odds: 30-1
Drape: He was a handful to load into the Derby gate and wreaked havoc early in the race. This one needs to relax.
Hopper: The 14th-place Derby finisher is a son of Oxbow, who won that race in 2013. That, plus the addition of blinkers, isn’t enough to help him here.
Coach: Tim Yakteen Jockey: Irad Ortiz Odds: 12-1
Drape: So far he has just proven to be a racer against high caliber horses as well.
Hopper: As he picks up Ortiz, he’s missed the board in his two graduated-stakes runs and is certainly a cut below others who have previously been trained by beleaguered Bob Baffert, like Taiba and Messier.
Coach: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Joel Rosario Odds: 6-5
Drape: This one was going to be the favorite after the hour even if Rich Strike came. A consistent sort that ran big in the Derby.
Hopper: He came so close to the Derby, battling to finish second after lightning-fast first-half pace that wore out the rest of the top contenders. He’ll be in the game again late, but how much have the Derby taken from him?
9. Skippy Longstocking
Coach: Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Junior Alvarado Odds: 20-1
Drape: He has worked well since finishing third at Wood Memorial. He can touch the board.
Hopper: He is a son of 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator and the most experienced in the field, having run nine races. But he only won two.