Last updated May 6th, 2021
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:
‘Win Today, See You In May’ Tracks
- Charles Town
- Laurel Park
- Golden Gate Fields
- Gulfstream Park
- Oaklawn Park
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 2021 race has a $1.0 million prize pool with $600,000 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 2021 see Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit win the Preakness Stakes?
The Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park in April is a “Win and You’re In” Preakness prep race. The Reds, trained by John Kimmel, won the Federico Tesio Stakes in 2021 via disqualification after 1st place finisher Excellorator was ruled to have impeded the path of the runner-up. The Reds was not Triple-Crown nominated, but can claim a supplemental entry up until May 10.
Fulsome, trained by Brad Cox, rallied to win the $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational, held on the same day as the Kentucky Derby. Like The Reds, Fulsome is not Triple Crown nominated, but could potentially enter the field by paying the supplemental entry fee.
At the El Camino Derby, held at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, Kyle Frey-trained Rombauer came away with the win and an automatic qualification to the Preakness. Unlike The Reds and Fulsome, Rombauer is Triple Crown nominated, and is expected to be in the field on May 15th.
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.