Kentucky Derby winner Authentic was installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite for the Preakness and drew the No. 9 post position at the draw Monday that lacked the usual fanfare of owners and trainers packing into a crowded tent in the infield at Pimlico Race Course.
Authentic’s trainer, Bob Baffert, is undefeated taking the Derby winner to the Preakness, which will be run Saturday without fans. Baffert is looking for his record-breaking eighth Preakness victory.
Jockey John Velazquez expects to take Authentic out to the front again and wonders if the pace will be slower without Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law, who was a runner-up to Authentic in the Derby.
“He’s pretty quick,” Velazquez said. “I just have to switch him a little bit. He’ll be on the lead no matter what.”
Track announcer Dave Rodman announced the post positions for the field of 11 horses wearing a mask, while those pulling the pills to determine them were seated — socially distanced and masked — nearby.
Art Collector, who was scratched from the Derby, appears to be the biggest threat to Authentic and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line out of post No. 3.
“If this horse gets away good, he’s tactical enough that he can be forward … and then we can kind of take it from there,” said trainer Tom Drury, who believed it was the right thing to do to scratch Art Collector with a minor foot ailment.
Baffert’s other entry, Thousand Words, and filly Swiss Skydiver are next at 6-1. Thousand Words drew the No. 5 post and Swiss Skydiver the No. 4 as she looks to be the sixth filly to win the Preakness and first since Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
Thousand Words was a late scratch just before the race after falling in the paddock.
“The good news is the horse is absolutely fine,” on-call vet Dr. Kathy Anderson said. “He’s returned to the stable area. Had a thorough examination by Dr. Kevin Dunlavy, his regular practitioner, and has been cleared for service with not a scratch upon him. So we’re very pleased with that outcome.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen is saddling three horses in the Preakness: No. 1 Excession (30-1), No. 8 Max Player (15-1) and No. 10 Pneumatic (20-1). Max Player is the only horse to run in all three Triple Crown races. They’re being run out of order because of the pandemic; the Belmont was run June 20, Kentucky Derby Sept. 5 and now the Preakness on Saturday.
The other horses in the field are No. 2 Mr. Big News (12-1), No. 6 Jesus’ Team (30-1), No. 7. NY Traffic (15-1) and No. 11 Liveyourbeastlife (30-1). Mr. Big News was third behind Authentic and Tiz the Law in the Derby.
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