Although the Preakness Stakes (G1) is still two weeks away, the field is quickly taking shape.
MEDINA SPIRIT's return for the second jewel was the more obvious prediction, based on Bob Baffert's post-Derby comments. (Read more about it here: Kentucky Derby Follow Up: What's Next?).
The son of PROTONICO could give Baffert his eighth Preakness Stakes victory.
CONCERT TOUR is also set to compete. The Daily Racing Form and Horse Racing Nation confirmed the news yesterday. But he'll part ways with regular rider Joel Rosario, for a new rider in Mike Smith.
On the other hand, ESSENTIAL QUALITY has been ruled out of the Preakness Stakes. This was announced by Jimmy Bell, the president of Godolphin USA. The son of TAPIT will instead be pointed to the Travers Stakes (G1) on August 28th, 2021.
"There are other options, and there are other factors that come into that," Bell said. "Nothing is set in stone."
"The Travers is our ultimate goal", Bell continued, "so we are going to point toward that work backwards from there. We'll continue to monitor his energy level. And his next start may or may not be the Belmont, as all options are being considered. We're looking at everything, not just, 'this is what we're doing.' This is five weeks away. He's got at least three breezes."
"The goal was to get the Kentucky Derby. We got there. Now, then, we reset, recalibrate. The goal is now the Travers." (Horse Racing Nation, Carolyn Greer)
ESSENTIAL QUALITY finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, though Brad Cox felt he was the best horse in the race, considering the extra distance he had to run by racing wide.
Two Saturdays from now, the Brad Cox barn looks to be represented by CADDO RIVER and MANDALOUN.
KING FURY is also out. The son of CURLIN garnered considerable buzz leading up to the Kentucky Derby. He earned his trip to Louisville with a win in the Lexington Stakes (G3), but had to be pulled out due to a fever.
According to trainer Ken McPeek to Horse Racing Nation, "he's still not 100%. So it's pretty much a no brainer. He's a no-go"
"He's not bouncing back as quickly as we'd hope," McPeek continued. "But we'll sort through it, let him tell us." (Horse Racing Nation, Carolyn Greer)
KEEPMEINMIND is a possible entrant. Maryland Jockey Club received news from trainer Robertino Diodoro that the son of LAOBAN is being considered for the second jewel.
GET HER NUMBER for trainer Peter Miller is another possible starter, provided he remains healthy. If we recall, the son of DIALED IN was ruled out of the Kentucky Derby just one week before the race, due to a slow five-furlong workout at San Luis Rey Downs.
CROWDED TRADE for trainer Chad Brown is likely to join the fray. It was announced shortly after his third-place finish in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1), that the son MORE THAN READY would point to the Preakness Stakes.
ROMBAUER, who finished third in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) and ranked 16th on the Derby Leaderboard, is still on target for his Baltimore appearance. Trainer Michael McCarthy confirmed yesterday about the Preakness Stakes: "That's the plan."
MIDNIGHT BOURBON, after good effort to finish sixth in the Kentucky Derby, is also pointed for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Here's the full "probables" list for the Preakness Stakes, per Horse Racing Nation: MEDINA SPIRIT, CONCERT TOUR, MANDALOUN, MIDNIGHT BOURBON, CADDO RIVER, CROWDED TRADE, ROMBAUER, KEEPMEINMIND, GET HER NUMBER, RAM, UNBRIDLED HONOUR, and FRANCE GO DE INA.
Source: HRN Staff, Carolyn Greer, NYRA Press Office, Maryland Jockey Club, Daily Racing Form