Preakness Stakes looms large but only two horses confirmed

The 146th Preakness Stakes will take place on May 15 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, but as yet only two horses have been confirmed for the race.

First a review of what happened last year. The 145th edition in 2020 was switched from its traditional date in May to October 3 due to COVID-19 and was won by Swiss Skydiver, who started the race at odds of 12/1 and defeated the 3/2 favourite and Kentucky Derby winner Authentic by a head.

2020 Triple Crown recap

In 2020, the Triple Crown Series order of races was altered, as well as the time between them. Instead of leading off with the Kentucky Derby, the first race was the Belmont Stakes in June, and then the Derby was run in September, followed by the Preakness.

The winner of the Belmont Stakes was Tiz the Law, the 4/5 favourite who easily outran Dr. Post by three-and-three-quarter lengths over a distance that was shortened to a mile-and-an-eighth from the usual mile-and-a-half.

In the 2020 Kentucky Derby, the 3/5 favourite Tiz the Law finished second to Bob Baffert's Authentic, who had skipped the Belmont.

2021 Triple Crown update

Things are somewhat back to normal for 2021, at least from a scheduling standpoint, but attendance restrictions and COVID-19 protocols are still being followed. The Kentucky Derby, which took place on Saturday, had almost 53,000 spectators in attendance, the largest number at any sporting event since March 2020, but still far below the 160,000 that generally pack Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

The Preakness usually attracts a large party-going crowd, with the highlights of the event taking place in the infield of the Pimlico Race Course. In 2020, it was held with no spectators in attendance, but for 2021 the organisers have announced that they will allow 10,000 fans into the facility, with COVID-19 protocols in place for the day of racing.

Trainer Bob Baffert won his second consecutive and seventh overall Kentucky Derby on Saturday when 12/1 underdog Medina Spirit led virtually wire to wire in a close, exciting race in which five horses had a chance to make a move down the stretch.

Favourite Essential Quality went off at 5/2 odds but couldn't manage to recover from a poor start and eventually ended up finishing fourth.

Medina Spirit and Concert Tour confirmed for Preakness

The field for the 146th running of the Preakness Stakes is still far from being set, with only Bob Baffert's Medina Spirit and Concert Tour, who was kept out of the Derby, apparently confirmed according to the Daily Racing Form. Previously, the trainers of two other horses that did not race at Churchill Downs, Rombauer and Crowded Trade, indicated they would likely enter the Preakness too.

Two trainers who had multiple entries in the Kentucky Derby, Todd Pletcher and Brad Cox, have not made any commitments about what they will do regarding the Preakness Stakes. Cox trains second-place Derby finisher Mandaloun, Essential Quality and Caddo River, who was originally entered at Churchill Downs but a fever kept him from competing.