No Preakness Stakes entries for Brad Cox while Midnight Bourbon gets new jockey

The Preakness Stakes takes place at Pimlico Race Course this Saturday, May 15, with the line-up becoming increasingly clear as the big day approaches.

As is usual, a number of entries from the Kentucky Derby will not feature in Maryland, but there have been some surprising dropouts too.

No entries for trainer Brad Cox

Coming into the Kentucky Derby, things were looking pretty good for trainer Brad Cox.

Favourite Essential Quality was poised to make a strong run and Mandaloun was looking to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Louisiana Derby. Cox also had Caddo River, who had been held out of the Derby, waiting in the wings for the successful trainer to trot out of his stable for the Preakness Stakes.

A week later - after Essential Quality failed to make a late surge and finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and Mandaloun exceeded expectations by finishing as runner-up to Medina Spirit - Cox has decided to skip the Preakness Stakes entirely and focus instead on the Belmont Stakes on June 5.

He had previously announced that Essential Quality would skip the second jewel in the Triple Crown and followed that up later in the week with the decision that Mandaloun and Caddo River wouldn't be making the trip to Baltimore either.

It isn't unusual for a large number of horses that run in the Kentucky Derby to be left out of the Preakness because of the two week gap between races, which is considerably shorter than the four to five weeks that is the typical period between runnings.

Although the final field for the Preakness is still subject to change, it appears that only Medina Spirit, Midnight Bourbon and Keepmeinmind will be the horses moving from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Race Course. And of course there are now huge question marks on Medina Spirit's attendance following potential doping.

Jockey switch for Midnight Bourbon

With Bob Baffert's Concert Tour entered in the Preakness Stakes at 2/1 second favourite and Mike Smith announced as jockey for the May 15 race, Midnight Bourbon's trainer Steve Asmussen has had to find another rider for the sixth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby. The veteran Hall of Famer Smith had done a masterful job working Midnight Bourbon up through the field after a brutal start left him well off the early pace.

The switch shouldn't be too disconcerting for the prolific trainer though. He has tapped Irad Ortiz Jr., the three-time defending Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey who was on board Known Agenda in the Kentucky Derby, to guide Midnight Bourbon in his attempt to challenge Medina Spirit in the Preakness Stakes. Ortiz Jr. had previously led Known Agenda to a victory in the Florida Derby that qualified the horse for Churchill Downs.