The following appeared at bloodhorse.com on September 28 and was written by Bob Ehalt. Fans can wager the Preakness at any Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Richmond, New Kent, Vinton and Hampton, at any VA-Horseplay OTB in Henrico (Breaker’s Sports Grille), Chesapeake (Buckets Bar & Grill) and Collinsville (The Windmill OTB Sports Grill), and online via TVG.com, Xpressbet.com, Twinspires.com and NYRABets.com. The OTB at Breakers has an outdoor walk-up betting tent for players convenience.
Field of 11 assembled for final leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico October 3
After winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) from the outside post, Authentic‘s bid for a victory in the final jewel of the Triple Crown will also begin toward the outside.
The son of Into Mischief landed post nine for the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at the Sept. 28 draw for the Oct. 3 stakes for 3-year-olds that will be contested under the most unusual circumstances in the race’s 145-year history.
Even with a shift in race dates from the spring to the fall, the Preakness attracted a surprisingly large cast of 3-year-olds hopeful of adding a Triple Crown victory to their résumé. Authentic, a winner of five of six career starts for trainer Bob Baffert, will face 10 rivals in Saturday’s race at Pimlico Race Course, including the grade 1-winning filly Swiss Skydiver, who faced males before when she was second to Preakness starter Art Collector in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
Owned by Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing, Authentic is one of two uncoupled starters for Baffert, who owns a record 16 victories in Triple Crown races — a record-tying seven of them in the Preakness — and will also send out Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm’s Thousand Words.
Authentic, who will be ridden by John Velazquez, was set as a 9-5 morning-line favorite in the field of 11.
“I rather be nine than one or 11,” Baffert said. “It really doesn’t matter as long as he breaks OK. When I drew one and two with American Pharoah and Dortmund (in the 2015 Preakness), I thought that was the end of the world, but it worked out. And when Authentic drew 18 (before scratches in the Kentucky Derby), I thought I was done, so nine is fine. It is what it is. He worked fine today (a bullet four furlongs in :47.60 at Churchill Downs) and looks fantastic, so we’re ready.”
Both Authentic and Thousand Words will ship from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Sept. 29.
Authentic gave Baffert a record-matching sixth Kentucky Derby win, and in the five previous instances he won the Run for the Roses he also captured the 1 3/16-mile Preakness two weeks later. Yet in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the wide-spread cancellation of racing in the spring, the Preakness was moved from its traditional spot as the second jewel of the Triple Crown on the third Saturday in May and switched to the first Saturday in October, where it will close out the series without the general public on hand.
The gap between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness was also lengthened from two weeks to four.
“I don’t like giving the competition an extra two weeks to get ready for us,” Baffert said.
The grade 2-winning Thousand Words (post 5, 6-1) was entered in the Kentucky Derby but was scratched less than an half-hour before the Sept. 5 race after he reared up and fell backward, landing on his side, while being saddled in the paddock. He will race with blinkers Saturday.
Peter Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver (post 4, 6-1) first tackled males when she finished 3 1/2 lengths behind Art Collector in the July 11 Blue Grass. The daughter of Daredevil then returned to the 3-year-old filly division and won the 1 1/4-mile Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course by 3 1/2 lengths before finishing second to Shedaresthedevil in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) in her last start.
If victorious, she would become the first filly to win the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
Without another major stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the horizon, trainer Ken McPeek opted to run her in the Preakness rather than face older fillies and mares in the Oct. 4 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland or train up to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
Yet following a Monday tweet by majority owner Jeff Bloom saying the champion older female Midnight Bisou, who figured to be favored in the Spinster, was being sent to Kentucky for a medical evaluation after coming out of a workout “a bit off,” McPeek had a reason to consider reversing course and run in the Spinster.
“I’ll have to speak with Peter Callahan about it, but that’s interesting news,” McPeek said about the possible absence of Midnight Bisou from the $400,000 Juddmonte Spinster.
Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector (post 3, 5-2), who is undefeated in his four starts at 3, was on course to run in the Kentucky Derby but was scratched four days before the second jewel of the Triple Crown due to a minor foot injury. Since then, the son of Bernardini has put in a series of sharp works for trainer Thomas Drury Jr. to merit a spot in Saturday’s race.
Besides Authentic, the starters will include three other horses who raced last time out in the Kentucky Derby. Mr. Big News (post 2, 12-1) fared the best of them, finishing third by 3 1/4 lengths at 46-1, while Max Player (post 8, 15-1) was fifth and Ny Traffic (post 7, 15-1) eighth.
Max Player, the only horse to start in all three legs of the Triple Crown, Pneumatic and Excession are all trained by Steve Asmussen.
Moving to the fall allowed the Maryland Jockey Club to offer a stellar Preakness Day undercard, highlighted by the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2), which is normally presented on the day before the Preakness.
The Preakness Day lineup features 12 stakes, six of them graded.