Traditionally contested as the middle leg, the $1 million Preakness (G1) at PImlico will conclude the Triple Crown for the first time this year. The three-race series spans 13 weeks, instead of the normal five-week period, and 11 horses will contest the 145th running of the 1 3/16-mile Preakness on Oct. 3.
Belmont Stakes (G1) winner and Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Tiz the Law will skip the Preakness, and five runners from the June 20 Belmont Stakes and Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby will be back in Baltimore.
Kentucky Derby winner Authentic will be the favorite for six-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert. The 3-year-old son of Into Mischief will be joined at Pimlico by Kentucky Derby third-placer Mr. Big News.
Max Player, who finished third in the Belmont and fifth in the Kentucky Derby, will be the only horse to contest all three legs of the 2020 Triple Crown. Belmont fourth-placer Pneumatic will rejoin the chase after skipping the middle leg. Kentucky Derby eight-placer NyTraffic rounds out the quintet of sophomores with Triple Crown experience.
The field was finalized at Monday’s post position draw, and let’s take a look at the six “new shooters” for the Preakness:
ART COLLECTOR, a sharp winner of the Ellis Park Derby and Blue Grass (G2) in his last two starts, rates as a major win contender. The bay son of Bernardini has won all four starts this year, but the front-running colt was forced to miss the Kentucky Derby after sustaining a superficial cut to his leg early in the week. Art Collector didn’t lose any conditioning, impressing onlookers in a recent fast work at Churchill Downs, and his last three Brisnet Speed ratings are top-notch (102-104-103). Brian Hernandez Jr. rides for trainer Tommy Drury Jr.
THOUSAND WORDS will get another chance at a Triple Crown race. He flipped over in the paddock and was scratched from the Kentucky Derby, but the Baffert-trained colt emerged unscathed from the incident. The $1 million auction purchase flashed ability last year, winning a pair of graded stakes as a 2-year-old, but tailed off earlier this year. Thousand Words appeared to be turning things around last time, winning the Aug. 1 Shared Belief S. at Del Mar, and Pioneerof the Nile colt received a fine 104 Speed number. He’s a tough read, but Thousand Words can’t be dismissed from win consideration.
SWISS SKYDIVER will bring quality speed to the mix. The four-time graded stakes-winning filly didn’t receive the best trip from the rail post when finishing second in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) last time, but Swiss Skydiver earned a 109 Brisnet Speed rating winning the 1 1/4-mile Alabama (G1) two starts back and showed her class finishing a clear second against males in the Blue Grass. She will be a pace factor in Baltimore.
LIVEYOURBEASTLIFE was beaten in a high-priced claiming event three starts back but does appear to be improving for trainer Jorge Abreu, recording a convincing allowance tally and a closing second in the Jim Dandy in his last two outings at Saratoga. His Brisnet Speed ratings are light, and Liveyourbeastlife could find himself overmatched in the Preakness, but the Ghostzapper colt is a little interesting.
EXCESSION is one of three confirmed runners for Steve Asmsusen, along with Max Player and Pneumatic, but he faces a tall task in the first start since mid-March. No factor in his first two outings this year, Excession capitalized upon a hot and contested pace when last seen, rallying to finish second at 82-1 odds in the Rebel (G2).
JESUS’ TEAM will be supplemented to the Preakness after finishing third in the Jim Dandy. A non-threatening second to Pneumatic in the Pegasus S. two starts back, the former claimer was no factor when fourth in the Haskell (G1) three starts back and may need easier company to be effective.