The field for the 146th Preakness Stakes is set after an agreement was reached to allow Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit to run, despite testing positive for elevated levels of betamethasone.
Three horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby return for another try in the Preakness, but surprisingly runner-up Mandaloun is absent, despite the chance that he could end up the Derby winner if a second test comes back positive for Medina Spirit. So for the third year in a row, the Triple Crown Series has been affected by unusual circumstances, not exactly good for the long-term state of the industry.
Despite this, let us continue our breakdown of the field, working our way to the favourites.
Keepmeinmind (post position 2, morning line odds 15/1)
Keepmeinmind ended his two-year-old campaign with an impressive win in the Grade 3 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs, charging from the back of the nine-horse field over the last quarter mile to beat Smiley Sobotka by three-quarters of a length. That had followed top-three finishes in both the Breeders' Futurity and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland, establishing the Robertino Diodoro colt as a legitimate Triple Crown contender.
However, something happened on the way to Churchill Downs, as Keepmeinmind finished a disappointing sixth in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn then fifth at the Blue Grass Stakes. He only made it into the Kentucky Derby because of the high number of withdrawals by horses ahead of him in the Road to the Kentucky Derby point standings.
His frustrations continued in the Derby (above), where he ran in last place as late as six furlongs into the race, finally charging over the last four furlongs to finish in seventh place but never really getting close to the leaders. To be a factor in the Preakness, he'll need to suddenly return to his juvenile form, which is possible but highly unlikely.
Unbridled Honor (post position 8, morning line odds 15/1)
Trainer Todd Pletcher had four horses in the Kentucky Derby, but none of them were a factor and all are skipping the Preakness. This means Unbridled Honor is Pletcher's only chance to win his first Preakness Stakes, but his 1-1-0 record in five starts just doesn't indicate that he has a chance to be a serious contender on Saturday.
He didn't break his maiden until his third try at Tampa Bay Downs on February 6, finishing fourth and fifth in his first two efforts at Aqueduct. Then, in the Tampa Bay Derby, a late surge moved him into fourth place at the end of the race, coming from last place after half a mile but still leaving him seven lengths behind Helium, the upset winner at odds of 15/1.
His most recent race was the Lexington Stakes, where he once again found himself at the back of the nine-horse field after half a mile, but a steady charge got him into second place at the finish line, two-and-three-quarter lengths back off 18/1 long shot King Fury. His late speed might make him a nice addition to multiple entry wagers, especially the trifecta.