Will Lukas Ram-raid the Preakness Stakes?

Ram, a late-blooming horse from Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ stable, is likely to be in the field for the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel in the Triple Crown that will be run on May 15.

The legendary 85-year-old is looking for his seventh Preakness Stakes victory and first since 2013 with Oxbow.

His expected entry in the Preakness took eight tries to break his maiden, finally getting it done at Oaklawn Park on April 16. Ram followed that up with a one-mile allowance race victory at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, winning by three-and-a-half lengths after a strong stretch run.

The Preakness would be Ram's first entry in a stakes race and it would be a significant step up in class for the three-year-old. It's not just an increased level of competition for Ram, but also a longer distance of a mile and three-sixteenths, which is a furlong farther than he's ever run.

However, given Lukas' storied success as a trainer, it probably isn't necessarily wise to question whether one of his horses is ready or not to be entered into the Triple Crown Series. He hasn't accumulated 4,848 wins and $283,183,102 in earnings over a career spanning almost 45 years without having a good feel for a horse's readiness.

Chad Brown's Crowded Trade still on track

Trainer Chad Brown is still on track to enter Crowded Trade in the Preakness after holding him out of the Kentucky Derby despite having enough points to earn an invitation. His last race was the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, where he finished a disappointing third after starting as one of the top two favourites.

In his prior start in the Gotham Stakes, also at Aqueduct, Crowded Trade managed a runner-up finish in only his second career race after getting outkicked by Weyburn after leading by a head at the top of the stretch. Brown will be hoping that Crowded Trade, after six weeks between races, will come into the Preakness well rested and able to finish stronger than in his first two stakes races.

Midnight Bourbon likely to be in Preakness too

Midnight Bourbon finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby for trainer Steve Asmussen and is looking very likely to be in the Preakness field, but he won't be ridden by jockey Mike Smith, who is expected to be on Bob Baffert's Concert Tour, who skipped the Derby. The winner of the Lecomte Stakes had trouble getting out of the starting gate and was never a factor at Churchill Downs, but Smith kept him in the race and did an excellent job getting Midnight Bourbon as high a finish as he could.

Brad Cox has already indicated that Kentucky Derby favourite and fourth-place finisher Essential Quality will skip the Preakness and focus instead on the Belmont Stakes on June 5. However, the trainer for Derby runner-up Mandaloun hasn't confirmed any entries in the May 15 race, with Caddo River also in the mix.