Who Can Triumph In The Preakness?

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The 150th Kentucky Derby is in the books, and most of the Thoroughbred racing world is still soaking in the amazing moment.

It was a Derby unlike any in modern racing history, to be sure. Not since 1947 was there a three-horse photo finish in the Kentucky Derby, and even then, the horses were heads apart- short distances, to be certain, but the margins between first and third this year were two mere noses.

However, there are still two legs of the Triple Crown to be run. In a little more than a week, the gates to the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland, according to TwinSpires, will flip open, and two minutes later, the quality and hierarchy of the three-year-old male division will become that much clearer.

Who are the top contenders for the 2024 Preakness Stakes as of this writing? Let’s take a look.

Seize the Grey

Aside from Mystik Dan, the most popular winner on the first Saturday in May was probably the MyRacehorse.com-owned Seize the Grey, who was victorious in the Grade I Pat Day Mile.

Earlier in the season, the colt had placed third in the Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks and earned enough Kentucky Derby qualifying points to be on the “bubble,” but that bubble burst when he ran a dull seventh in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes.

Instead, trainer D. Wayne Lukas chose to try the colt at the mile distance, and he was rewarded handsomely. Never one to treat a racehorse with kid gloves, Lukas plans to wheel his charge back in two weeks for a shot at the Preakness, and many think he has a good chance in the race.

Seize the Grey’s best win to date was undoubtedly the Pat Day Mile, which, as the name suggests, is run over a one-mile distance. However, the colt is by Arrogate, who won three Grade I stakes races- the Travers, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and the Dubai World Cup- at 1 ¼ miles. Seize the Grey’s broodmare sire, Smart Strike, is also a source of stamina, being the sire of Preakness winner Curlin and broodmare sire of Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike.

Imagination

Trainer Bob Baffert may still be barred from Churchill Downs (and thus the Kentucky Derby), but that has not stopped him from targeting the Preakness Stakes. This year is no exception, and Baffert looks to bring a powerful one-two punch to the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans.

The more lightly regarded of the two is Imagination, a colt who was slow to break his maiden but who eventually won the Grade II San Felipe Stakes after a grueling stretch battle with his stablemate, Wine Me Up. Favored in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, Imagination lost by a neck to Stronghold and has been targeting the Preakness since.

Imagination is the son of the leading sire, Into Mischief, who has primarily made a name for himself by producing speedy horses that top out at nine furlongs but who throw the occasional distance horse, such as Authentic or Mandaloun.

He should also have plenty of stamina thanks to his broodmare sire, Empire Maker, who was himself a winner of the Belmont Stakes and is the tail-male ancestor of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Muth

Imagination, however, is easily overshadowed by his brilliant stablemate, Grade I Arkansas Derby winner Muth. After the Arkansas Derby, Muth’s owner, Zedan Racing Stables, lobbied unsuccessfully for Muth to be permitted to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

There was no doubting the colt’s quality- he is the winner of multiple Grade I stakes races at two and three, and he has never finished worse than second in any of his races- and many fans thought that excluding Muth from the Derby would be effectively excluding the best three-year-old from the race. However, Churchill Downs was firm in their stance against Baffert, and so they set their eyes on the Preakness.

Muth is a son of hot young sire Good Magic, who was second to Justify in the Kentucky Derby. Good Magic has produced a Kentucky Derby winner in Mage, and sired contenders in this year’s Derby as well. Muth’s dam, Hoppa, is by Uncle Mo, who is known for getting speedy offspring who can stretch out if needed.

Mystik Dan

Even if they don’t believe he is capable of beating the highly regarded Muth, who beat him in the Arkansas Derby, many of the hearts of the Preakness crowd will be with the gutsy Kentucky Derby winner. Certainly, the colt has proven that he can hold his own at the top of the division.

However, the Kentucky Derby was not the first time Mystik Dan turned heads. His romp in the sloppy Grade III Southwest Stakes was one of the fastest Derby prep races of the season.

Mystik Dan has an interesting pedigree. His sire, Goldencents, was best known for being a two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. All of Goldencents’s top progeny, such as graded stakes winners Mr. Money and Going to Vegas, preferred similar distances- until Mystik Dan came along.

It is possible that the stamina came from the bottom of the pedigree; Mystik Dan’s dam, Ma’am, is the daughter of 2008 Travers winner Colonel John.

Claire S. Allen
Claire S. Allen
Hi there! I'm Claire S. Allen, a vibrant Gemini who's as bold as my favorite color, red. I'm a fan of two cool things: strolling the streets in a red jacket and crafting articles that connect with readers. With my warm and friendly personality, Claire is sure to brighten up your day!
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