Monday, September 28, 2020
BALTIMORE – Kentucky Derby winner Authentic will headline a field of 11 3-year-olds entered in the 145th Preakness Stakes, which will bring down the curtain on a most unusual 2020 Triple Crown campaign Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.
The Bob Baffert-trained colt was installed at 9-5 in the morning line at the post-position draw for the 1 3/16-mile classic that traditionally has been the ‘Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown’ in mid-May. Due to postponements forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Belmont Stakes, traditional third leg of the Triple Crown, went first on June 20, followed by the Kentucky Derby, which was postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5. The Preakness was originally slated for May 16.
In a quest to win a record eighth Preakness, Baffert will also saddle Thousand Words, who is listed at 6-1. When Baffert saddled Triple Crown winner Justify for a victory in the 2018 Preakness, he tied the record for most wins by a trainer with 19th century Hall of Fame trainer Robert Wyndham Walden, who saddled seven between 1875 and 1888.
Authentic, owned by Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC and Starlight Stable, led throughout in the 1 ¼ miles of the Derby on his way to a 1 ¼-length triumph over Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law. The colt drew Post No. 9 for the Preakness.
“I didn’t want to be in the 1-hole and I didn’t want to be in the 11 with him,” Baffert said. “But he’s got to get away from there well. He’s a good gate horse.”
Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Spendthrift Farm LLC's Thousand Words, who was a late Derby scratch after rearing and falling while being saddled in the Churchill paddock, drew Post No. 5.
“He’s fine [there],” said Baffert, repeating his preference for avoiding Posts No. 1 and 11.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who rode Authentic for the first time in the Derby, has the return mount. Florent Geroux is named to ride Thousand Words, who will be equipped with blinkers once again after running twice without them.
Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector is rated second at 5-2 in the morning line in his quest to win a sixth straight race. The son of 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini had earned his way into the Kentucky Derby field with a victory in the July 11 Blue Grass at Keeneland but missed a start in the Run for the Roses due to a minor foot issue. Art Collector, who hasn’t run since winning the Aug. 9 Ellis Park Derby, drew Post No. 3 for his first start in the Triple Crown series.
“That’s kind of the same spot we’ve been in every time,” said trainer Tommy Drury, whose Preakness contender broke from Post No. 4 for the Ellis Park Derby and Post No. 3 for his two previous races. “Obviously, this has kind of been our trip every time; we’re down inside like that.”
Drury, who awarded the return mount to Brian Hernandez Jr., is expecting a competitive Preakness
. “I think it’s a good race," he said. "When you get to this level, you can make a case for all of them. On any day, any of these horses can jump up and run a big race. You can see that from top to bottom. Kenny [McPeek] is obviously high on his filly [Swiss Skydiver] or he wouldn’t be coming. Authentic is doing fantastic. I know he’s been training lights out at Churchill. Let the doors open, let everybody have a good clean trip, and let’s have the best horse win.
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