- The sport of kings’ wildest two weeks in recent memory have seen horses disqualified, jockeys suspended, and the top three Derby finishers all missing on Saturday. However, the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes must go on. As such, Improbable, trained by Bob Baffert, enters Thursday as a 5-2 favorite.
- Saturday marks the first time since 1996 that the Kentucky Derby winner will miss the Preakness. Country House came down with a cough after the Derby, and was removed from training. In fact, none of the first four horses to cross the finish line two weeks ago will be in Baltimore, a first since 1951. Improbable is therefore almost favored by default.
- So, with no Triple Crown possibility, and so many big names staying away, why bother with the Preakness? For starters, Baffert will be gunning for his eighth victory at Pimlico. The horse best positioned in his way is Mark Casse’s War of Will (4-1). Also, the Preakness is usually a good betting race anyway.
- A slight chance of rain has entered the race day forecast, after earlier hopes of sunny weather. The region could see what forecasters call brief and disorganized showers, but nothing approaching a washout. Of course, plenty could change weather-wise before Saturday.
- The future status of Pimlico Race Course always seems to loom like a shadow over Preakness day. The race will be back next year, but after that, the second jewel of the Triple Crown falls back in to location limbo. Many, from local politicians to track owners and trainers have debated the wisdom of spending the hundreds of millions necessary for the major upgrades the track so desperately needs.
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