The 146th Preakness Stakes will be run on Saturday amid the controversy surrounding Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness favourite Medina Spirit.
The Bob Baffert-trained colt tested for illegal levels of the anti-inflammatory betamethasone, but while his Derby victory is still in doubt, the Maryland Racing Commission is allowing him to run in the second jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday.
The race has a purse of $1 million and will be contested over a mile and three-sixteenths.
Ten horses are entered for what will be the 13th of 14 races on Saturday's card at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, and we continue a countdown of the three-year-olds who will be competing in the race.
Crowded Trade (post position four, 10/1)
This Chad Brown-trained colt was held back as a two-year-old and broke his maiden in his first career race at Aqueduct on January 28th. He finished second in the Gotham Stakes after leading at the top of the stretch but was nosed out at the finish line by long shot Weyburn.
In the Wood Memorial, Crowded Trade was in eighth place in the bunched field after four furlongs and ended up moving forward but only made it to third place behind 72/1 Bourbonic and 15/1 Dynamic One. The result gave him enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but his connections held him out to focus on the Preakness.
Crowded Trade is still a bit of an unknown, with just two starts in stakes races making it difficult to assess his overall talent. Two high finishes in prestigious Derby prep races give enough indication that he has a chance to contend in the Preakness, especially if he's in touch with the leaders at the top of the stretch.
Midnight Bourbon (five, 5/1)
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Midnight Bourbon was one of the most consistent finishers on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, finishing in the money in all five of his qualifying races, including a win in the Lecomte Stakes. He was caught in early traffic in the Kentucky Derby but fought back gamely under jockey Mike Smith to finish in sixth place.
In the Louisiana Derby, Midnight Bourbon battled winner Hot Rod Charlie for the entire race, eventually losing by two lengths and almost getting caught by third-place finisher O Besos. He will be ridden by his third jockey in as many races as Irad Ortiz, Jr. will replace Smith, who will be on Concert Tour for trainer Bob Baffert on Saturday.
Given his consistency and the way he battled back in the Derby, it will be tough to count him out, and he should be given strong consideration in any exacta or trifecta wagers in the Preakness.
If the two Baffert horses at the top of the morning odds struggle at all, look for Midnight Bourbon to pose a serious challenge. That would be interesting.