Preakness 2022: Evaluating candidates for Pimlico

That could change. No. It will change. But for now the field for Preakness Stakes 2022 is full of possibilities. The odds are another matter.

Here are the candidates for the second jewel of the Triple Crown on May 21 at Pimlico in Baltimore, subject – finally – to change. They are listed in – well – order of plot.

Rich Strike

Status: Likely. Coach:
Eric Red. Jockey: Sonny Leon. Last race: Won the Kentucky Derby. Style: Deeply closer. The story: Winning the Derby at odds of 80 to 1 ruined all of his conditions. From now on, he can no longer be entered in “other than” races. It’s been 10 years since the Derby winner entered the Preakness as an ‘other than’ favourite. That was when I get another upset Bodemeister. It will look even more like 2009, when Mine That Bird was the 50-1 Derby winner and no better than the third pick at Pimlico before losing by a length to Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra.

RELATED: The Derby-winning coach is in the Triple Crown whirlwind.

secret oath

Status: Possible. Coach:
D. Wayne Lukas. Jockey: Luis Contreras. Last race: Won the Kentucky Oaks. Style: Midrange. The story: She finished third against the men in the Arkansas Derby (G1), so why wouldn’t she try that for a coach who’s been there and done that? Lukas dispatched the winner of the Derby Winning Colors against the Boys in Baltimore in 1988. She finished third as favorite to Preakness. If not, Lukas said the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on May 16 in Pimlico could be Secret Oath’s next stop.

Epicenter

Status: No decision. Coach:
Steve Asmusson. Jockey: Joel Rosario. Last race: 2nd in the Kentucky Derby. Style: Early speed or stalker. The story: He won the Derby until the last 10 strides. If he goes, he’s probably the Preakness’ favorite. He will be back on the track for a gallop on Wednesday at Churchill Downs. Asmussen and Winchell Thoroughbreds racing director David Fiske said if Epicenter looks good, he could be sent to Baltimore.

Early voting

Status: Likely. Coach:
Chad Brown. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. Last race: 2nd at the Memorial du Bois (G2). Style: Early speed. The story: Even if he qualified for the Derby, Brown was always aiming for the Preakness for this colt of Gun Runner who won the Withers (G3) in hand ride and who was caught on the wire by Mo Donegal in the Wood. Only this defeat prevented him from being undefeated in three races.

Simplification

Status: Likely. Coach:
Antonio Sano. Jockey: To be determined. Last race: 4th in the Kentucky Derby. Style: Midrange. The story: With José Ortiz riding him near the back of the pack, Simplification avoided the suicidal pace of the Derby’s start. Whoever rides him, he won’t be 35-1 at Pimlico.

smile of happiness

Status: Possible. Coach:
Kenny McPeek. Jockey: Corey Lanerie. Last race: 8th in the Kentucky Derby. Style: Midrange. The story: Before passing out on the final stretch at Churchill Downs, he got caught in traffic and leveled off at the second corner. Still, he fought back before running out of gas. If he didn’t take too much from him in the Derby, maybe he’ll like the shorter distance of the Preakness.

Zandon

Status: No decision. Coach:
Chad Brown. Jockey: Flavian Prat. Last race: 3rd in the Kentucky Derby. Style: Closer. The story: It would carry more intrigue if it didn’t look like Brown objected to going to Baltimore. As promised before the Derby, Zandon stayed in the middle of the pack rather than at the back, and he pounced at the right time. He simply lost to a better horse in his duel with Epicenter. Oh yeah. There was also this iron horse.

Taiba

Status: Possible. Coach:
Tim Yakteen. Jockey: Mike Smith. Last race: 12th in the Kentucky Derby. Style: Stalker. The story: In only his third race he got a serious baptism and a face full of dirt. He didn’t change his lead in the stretch, so who knows how much better he could have done? Considering cynically that he is still a colt of Bob Baffert, he could be the eighth to win the Preakness. Then again, six of those first seven were Derby winners, and Taiba is not that.

Merry Jack

Status: Likely. Coach:
Doug O’Neill. Jockey: Raphael Bejarano. Last race: 14th in the Kentucky Derby. Style: Deeply closer. The story: He spent his energy before the Derby getting caught in the starting line. Then he was slow to get out. No wonder the connections are eager to get back to the fight.

Minister of Creation

Status: Possible. Coach:
Kenny McPeek. Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Last race: Won a 1 1/16 mile allowance on the Derby undercard. Style: Midrange. The story:
Without a loss of neck on his debut, this Creative Causeway colt with an impressive toe turn would be 3 for 3. He will come out of Lasix for the Preakness.

Skippy Longstocking

Status: Likely. Coach:
Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Junior Alvarado. Last race: 3rd at Wood Memorial (G2). Style: Stalker. The story: This Exaggerator colt is a throwback to a time when racehorses ran. The Preakness will be his 10th start but only his second away from Gulfstream Park, where he earned his two first and allowance company wins. Joseph won the winter-spring title at Gulfstream. He continues to try to achieve the same kind of dominance north of there.

An Ojo

Status: Likely. Coach: Ricky Courville. Jockey: Ramon Vazquez. Last race: 8th in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Style: Stalker. The story: A bruised foot diagnosed on the day of entry kept him out of the Kentucky Derby, where he would have been the longest shooter on the board. He’s still dining on his 75-1 breakthrough in winning the Rebel (G2).

Rattle N Roll

Status: Possible. Coach: Kenny McPeek. Jockey: To be determined. Last race: 6th in the Blue Grass (G1). Style: Midrange. The story: If there had only been one more defection, he could have been in the Derby. His last victory dates back to last fall in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1). He finished the board in his three starts as a 3-year-old, all prepared for the Derby. McPeek said that if Smile Happy were going to Preakness, Rattle N Roll probably wouldn’t because they’re both owned by the Mackin family.

ethereal road

Status: Possible. Coach:
D. Wayne Lukas. Jockey: To be determined. Last race: 4th in Lexington (G3). Style: Closer. The story: When the colt “was flat” on Friday morning, Lukas pulled him out of the Derby saying “if I had raced him again then I pretty much ruined the summer”. Ethereal Road raced twice in eight days last month at Keeneland, and its only victory in seven starts was in a first race at Oaklawn in January.

Shake ’em up

Status: Possible. Coach:
Rodolpho Sanchez-Salomon. Jockey: To be determined. Last race: 3rd of Federico Tesio. Style: Closer. The story: After a troubled trip last April 16 in traditional Preakness buildup, owner-trainer Sánchez-Salomón weighed the classic against turf mile James W. Murphy on the same card. The gelding, which earned two black-type entries at Laurel Park, was a $16,000 claim last fall.

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