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Last updated: May 20, 2023 at 2:05 a.m. EDT
2023 Preakness Stakes Prep Races
After taking a look at who is Triple Crown nominated, take a look at winners and runners from the following list of Preakness prep races.
The following races earn the winner an automatic berth into the Preakness Stakes. However, thoroughbreds must be triple crown nominated in order to officially enter the Preakness field:
- Kentucky Derby
- Federico Tesio Stakes
- Bath House Row Stakes
- El Camino Real Derby
‘Win Today, See You In May’ Tracks
About the 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 2023 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. In 2018, Justify won the race on his way to his own Triple Crown title, beating Derby runner-up Good Magic. In 2020, Kentucky Oaks runner-up Swiss Skydiver upset Derby winner and favorite Authentic to become only the sixth filly to win the race. In 2022, American Champion Three-Year-Old Epicenter and Jockey Joel Rosario came up short in both the Derby and the Preakness, being edged by Rich Strike (in one of the biggest upsets in sports history) and Early Voting respectively.
The Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park in April is a “Win and You’re In” Preakness prep race. In 2023, Perform relied on a late surge in the final 1/16th of a mile to edge Ninetyprcentmaddie and earn qualification. Since Perform was not among the group of Triple Crown nominated horses, the Perform’s owners paid the $150,000 supplemental entry fee to be included in the field.
With Red Route One’s win in the $200,000 Bath House Row Stakes, Steve Asmussen made history by becoming the winningest trainer in Oaklawn Park’s history, notching his 868th win. As an added bonus, his win means the Gun Runner-sired colt earns an automatic berth in the 2023 Preakness.
At the 2023 El Camino Derby, held at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, Chase the Chaos showed exceptional form to notch his first stakes win by 1 1/2 lengths. The win not only gave him 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but also an automatic berth in the Preakness. Ultimately, owners decided to bypass the Derby despite nomination in favor of running in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
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. 2020 Kentucky Oaks runner-up, Swiss Skydiver, went on to win the Preakness later that year.
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.