How beaten Kentucky Derby favorites have fared as Preakness favorites

May 20th, 2022

Even before this week's withdrawals of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Rich Strike and third-place finisher Zandon, Derby favorite and runner-up Epicenter was pretty much assured of also being the favorite for the May 21 Preakness (G1). Now all that remains to be seen is how low his odds will go.

What's the history of beaten Kentucky Derby favorites who were also the post-time favorites in the Preakness? Here's a list from those in the post-World War II era:

1947 Phalanx 2.00 2nd 1.10 2nd
1953 Native Dancer 0.70 2nd 0.20 1st
1954 Correlation 3.00 6th 0.90 2nd
1955 Nashua 1.30 2nd 0.30 1st
1959 First Landing 3.60 3rd 1.60 8th
1962 Ridan 1.10 3rd 2.70 2nd
1963 Candy Spots 1.50 3rd 1.50 1st
1964 Hill Rise 1.40 2nd 0.80 3rd
1967 Damascus 1.70 3rd 1.80 1st
1970 My Dad George 2.80 2nd 2.60 2nd
1976 Honest Pleasure 0.40 2nd 0.90 5th
1985 Chief's Crown 1.20 3rd 1.00 2nd
1989 Easy Goer 0.80 2nd 0.60 2nd
1993 Prairie Bayou 4.40 2nd 2.20 1st
1995 Timber Country 3.40 3rd 1.90 1st
1997 Captain Bodgit 3.10 2nd 2.10 3rd
2001 Point Given 1.80 6th 2.30 1st
2012 Bodemeister 4.20 2nd 1.70 2nd
2019 Improbable 4.00 4th 2.50 6th
2022 Epicenter 4.10 2nd ??? ???


Out of 19 beaten Kentucky Derby favorites that were also favored in the Preakness, only seven (37%) have won: Native Dancer, Nashua, Candy Spots, Damascus, Prairie Bayou, Timber Country, and Point Given. All but Nashua reversed form with their Kentucky Derby conqueror. All but Candy Spots and Timber Country were later named champion three-year-old male.

Of the 12 that were beaten again as the favorite, four lost again to the Kentucky Derby winner: Hill Rise (Northern Dancer), Easy Goer (Sunday Silence), Captain Bodgit (Silver Charm), and Bodemeister (I'll Have Another).

Besides Epicenter, the other Derby-Preakness favorites that did not have a rematch with the Derby winner in the Preakness were Correlation (Determine), Nashua (Swaps), First Landing (Tomy Lee), Chief's Crown (Spend a Buck), and Improbable (Country House).

With Rich Strike and Zandon bypassing next week's classic, Epicenter will have to deal with only Derby also-rans and so-called "new shooters." Losing Derby-Preakness favorites that lost to Derby also-rans in the Preakness were First Landing (Royal Orbit), My Dad George (Personality), Chief's Crown (Tank's Prospect), and Improbable (War of Will). The only Derby-Preakness favorite to lose the Preakness to a "new shooter" was Ridan (Greek Money).

Two other items worth noting:

Phalanx is the only losing Derby-Preakness favorite later to win champion three-year-old honors. He won five stakes in total that season, including the Belmont, Dwyer, and Jockey Club Gold Cup after losing the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Will it be Preakness or bust for Epicenter in this regard?

The last time the Kentucky Derby winner voluntarily skipped the Preakness (i.e. not due to injury) was in 1985, the year Chief's Crown was the beaten favorite in both the Derby and Preakness (and subsequently the Belmont too!). The Preakness winner that year, Tank's Prospect, was trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who is expected to start Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Oath against Epicenter.