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Preakness Stakes Prep Races

The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the Triple Crown held the third Saturday in May at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD. The race has a $1.5 million prize pool with $900,000 going to the winner. The Preakness is limited to 14 horses and eligibility is determined by earnings in previous races.

The Kentucky Derby is the closest Preakness prep race. The winner of the Kentucky Derby goes on to the Preakness two weeks later, and usually a handful of other horses make the short two week turnaround. In 2014, 3 Derby entries made their way to the Preakness, and California Chrome won both races. In 2015, 5 Derby entries ran in the Preakness and American Pharoah won both races on his way to winning the Triple Crown. In 2016, 3 Derby entries ran in the Preakness and Derby runner-up Exaggerator won the Preakness over Derby winner and rival Nyquist. In 2017, 5 Derby runners made the post in the Preakness including Derby winner Always Dreaming. Will 2018 see Kentucky Derby winner Justify win the Preakness Stakes?

The Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park in April is a “Win and You’re In” Preakness prep race. Twisted Tom splashed his way down the stretch and drew away late to win the $125,000 the Federico Tesio Stakes on April 22, 2017. However, Twisted Tom is not Triple Crown nominated and his connections, Cobra Farm Inc., have decided not to pay a $150,000 supplemental fee to make him eligible. Twisted Tom is a New York-bred trained by Chad Brown, who says his colt is the biggest he has in training and has tremendous stamina. He could be pointed towards the Belmont Stakes in June. Diamond King is the 2018 renewal winner.

The Preakness represents a major prize for any three-year-old Thoroughbred and follows the Kentucky Derby as the second jewel of the American Triple Crown.

The two-week turnaround between races has reduced the number of Kentucky Derby participants at Pimlico Race Course as trainers nowadays often desire more time between starts, but the Derby winner is guaranteed (barring injury) and we can typically count upon at least a couple of other returnees in the Preakness starting gate as notable contenders.

Unlike the Kentucky Derby, which uses a points system to determine up to 20 starters, the Preakness is limited to 14 horses and eligibility is determined by earnings in previous races.

The Preakness becomes a logical target for horses excluded from the Kentucky Derby due to insufficient points. Those horses either didn’t perform well enough in prep races during the spring or they’re late bloomers who ran out of time to qualify.

The Derby Trial and Illinois Derby, both scheduled in April, don’t offer any points toward the Kentucky Derby but often produce horses for the Preakness. The Kentucky Oaks for three-year-old fillies, which takes place the day before the Kentucky Derby, has also yielded a couple of runners in recent years, including 2009 Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra.

Eight Maryland-bred horses have won the Preakness, the last being Deputed Testamony in 1983, and local horsemen are often represented in the state’s signature race. The Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel in April is a traditional prep race for Preakness hopefuls with no Kentucky Derby aspirations.