Rich Strike, the 80-1 shot ridden by Sonny Leon and trained by Eric Reed, mounted a furious and improbable rally to capture the 148th Kentucky Derby on May 7. He was not even in the field until another horse was scratched the day before the race.
But after initially pointing the colt toward the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, Rich Strike’s owner said last week the horse would skip the Preakness and run in the Belmont Stakes on June 11 instead. There won’t be a Triple Crown on the line, but there is sure to be plenty of drama, with the filly Secret Oath, winner of the Kentucky Oaks, taking on the boys, including the Derby runner-up, Epicenter.
Below, the Preakness horses are listed 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 CNBC at 2 p.m. Eastern time and moves to NBC at 4 p.m. Coverage will also be streamed on NBCSports.com.
Purse: $1.5 million guaranteed
Distance: 1 3/16 miles
Track record: 1 minute 52⅖ seconds (Farma Way, 1991)
Weight: 126 pounds
Post time: 7:01 p.m. Eastern
Joe Drape’s win-place-show picks: Secret Oath, Epicenter, Early Voting
Melissa Hoppert’s picks: Early Voting, Epicenter, Secret Oath
Here’s how we see the field:
Trainer: Antonio Sano Jockey: John Velazquez Odds: 6-1
Drape: This colt was running at the end of the Derby and finished fourth, but it is unlikely that he will get the fast pace that sets up his late kick.
Hoppert: He has hit the board in six of eight races and seems to be thriving at Pimlico. But Jose Ortiz, who was aboard him for his last three starts, thinks he has a better shot with Early Voting and chose to ride him instead.
2. Creative Minister
Trainer: Kenny McPeek Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Odds: 10-1
Drape: This late bloomer has shown improvement in each of his three starts, two of which were wins. Another move forward puts him in the hunt.
Hoppert: His first race was in March, and this will be his stakes debut. But his owners believe in him enough to have paid a $150,000 supplemental fee to make him eligible for the last two Triple Crown races. Might as well take a take chance, too, and throw him in your exotics.
Trainer: Kevin McKathan Jockey: Florent Geroux Odds: 50-1
Drape: His only victory in six starts came when he broke keenly and led every step of the way. He is most likely the pacesetter.
Hoppert: The 11th-place Blue Grass finisher is a son of the 2007 Preakness winner Curlin. But that’s about all he has going for him.
4. Secret Oath
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas Jockey: Luis Saez Odds: 9-2
Drape: This filly has shown she belongs with the boys, finishing third to them in the Arkansas Derby despite a horrible trip. The pick.
Hoppert: No Rich Strike? No problem. The Kentucky Oaks winner has a solid shot at becoming the seventh filly to win the Preakness, which would give Lukas a record-tying seven Preakness victories.
5. Early Voting
Trainer: Chad Brown Jockey: Jose Ortiz Odds: 7-2
Drape: He’s lightly raced and quick of foot. This colt is not impossible.
Hoppert: The second-place finisher in the Wood Memorial bypassed the Derby to point toward the Preakness. Brown and the colt’s owner, Seth Klarman, used this playbook before with the 2017 Preakness victor Cloud Computing.
6. Happy Jack
Trainer: Doug O’Neill Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione Odds: 30-1
Drape: He was a handful to load into the Derby gate and caused mayhem early in the race. This one needs to chill.
Hoppert: The 14th-place Derby finisher is a son of Oxbow, who won this race in 2013. That, plus the addition of blinkers, is not enough to help him here.
Trainer: Tim Yakteen Jockey: Irad Ortiz Odds: 12-1
Drape: So far, he has merely proven to be an also-ran against high-caliber horses.
Hoppert: While he picks up Ortiz, he has missed the board in his two graded stakes races and is definitely a cut below others who were previously trained by the embattled Bob Baffert, such as Taiba and Messier.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Joel Rosario Odds: 6-5
Drape: This one was going to be the post-time favorite even if Rich Strike came. A consistent sort that ran big in the Derby.
Hoppert: He came oh-so-close in the Derby, fighting on to finish second after a blazing-fast pace in the first half wore out the rest of the top contenders. He’ll be in the mix again late, but how much did the Derby take out of him?
Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Junior Alvarado Odds: 20-1
Drape: He has worked well since finishing third in the Wood Memorial. He may hit the board.
Hoppert: He is a son of the 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator and the most experienced in the field, having run nine races. But he has won only two.