Ridden by Javier Castellano, the Mage performed a desperate stretch run to win the unpredictable Kentucky Derby, which five favorites, including the favourite, won by a narrow margin before the race.
Now, in just his fifth race, Mage advances to Baltimore and the 148th Preakness Stakes, where he is a Triple Crown contender and the lone Derby horse on a track he is not good at. First Mission, considered his biggest challenger, injured his left hind ankle on Friday morning.
Below, Preakness’ horses are listed in order of post position, with comments from The New York Times’ Joe Drape and Melissa Hoppert. The morning line odds set by Pimlico Racecourse’s Keith Fusle have been revised to reflect the scratch.
How to watch: Saturday coverage will begin on CNBC at 1:00 pm ET and move to NBC at 4:30 pm. Coverage is also streamed on Peacock. NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports app.
wallet: $1.5 million guaranteed
distance: 1 3/16 miles
achievement: 1 minute 52 seconds 2/5 seconds (Pharma Way, 1991)
weight: 126 pounds
post time: 7:01 p.m. ET
Drape’s Winning Place Show Recommendations: Magician, Red Route 1, National Treasure
Hoppert recommends: National Treasure, Mage, Blazing Sevens
Here’s what the fields look like:
1. National Treasure
trainer: Bob Baffert jockey: John Velasquez Odds: 3-1
drape: This stallion appears to be the only speed horse. If the Hall of Fame jockey can slow the odds’ pace, National Treasure will become a gate-to-wire threat.
Hoppert: Baffert plans to add a blinker to help the Santa Anita Derby fourth place finish off a promising two-year-old season. If he wins, Baffert will set Preakness’ record for the most wins of eight.
2. Chase the Chaos
trainer: Ed Mauger Jr. jockey: Sheldon Russell Odds: 30-1
drape: He raced the Big Boys in the San Felipe Stakes but lost by nearly 17 lengths. Again he went too deep.
Hoppert: He won the synthetic stakes in February, qualifying for Preakness, but then faltered in two races, one of them on the dirt. no thanks.
trainer: Gustavo Delgado jockey: Javier Castellano Odds: 4-5
drape: Only two weeks to rest from the grueling mile and quarter distance? The big question is, there are no players in this group who can beat the world. Don’t blame me for eating chalk.
Hoppert: With no other Derby runners in this race, there is no doubt that he is the best in the field. But his persistent troubles breaking out of the gate and the expected slower pace don’t bode well for him here.
4. Coffee with Chris
trainer: John Salzman Jr. jockeyBy: Jaime Rodriguez Odds: 20-1
drape: This Maryland-born horse is honest and will try to push National Treasure out early. It will be hard to keep up with him.
Hoppert: There’s always one big local hope in this race, but Federico Tesio’s fifth placer doesn’t make it through.
5. Red Route 1
trainer: Steve Asmussen jockey: Joel Rosario Odds: 8-1
drape: Like mages, this stallion lags behind. Notice him chasing the Derby winner late.
Hoppert: Asmussen has finished second at Preakness the last two years and will be lucky to ride the late-blooming, slow-running stallion this year.
trainer: shag mcgoey jockey: Feargal Lynch Odds: 12-1
drape: This stallion has found his mojo after turning to racing over a mile. He is on a two-race winning streak and could finish third or fourth.
Hoppert: A $150,000 prize was added to Preakness for Federico Tesio’s winner. His connections are taking a big leap.
7. Blazing Sevens
trainer: Chad Brown jockey: Ayrad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 5-1
drape: Brown has twice won Preakness with a horse that avoided the Derby. Don’t expect a third victory on Saturday.
Hoppert: One of the three horses in this race produced by Good Magic along with Mage and Perform. He finished third in the bluegrass with Ortiz on board and has some quality racing experience.