The morning after the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) at Churchill Downs, participating trainers were reluctant to immediately commit their horses to face Derby winner Medina Spirit in the May 15 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.
Many of the 18 horses that finished behind Zedan Racing Stables’ son of Protonico are expected to bypass the second leg of the Triple Crown. Decisions on the select Derby starters still under consideration for the 1 3/16-mile classic may not be made until next weekend after they have resumed training for a few days.
That leaves most of Medina Spirit’s likely competition, at this early juncture, to be new shooters to the Triple Crown. Among these are probable starters Crowded Trade and Rombauer , colts that had the necessary qualifying points to gain entry in the Derby, but whose connections opted to await the Preakness instead.
The Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit could also face competition from within his own stable. Gary and Mary West’s Concert Tour , third as the favorite in last month’s Arkansas Derby (G1), remains under consideration for the Preakness after breezing five furlongs Sunday in 1:00 3/5 at Churchill Downs.
“He worked well this morning,” Baffert said before the media throng assembled outside Barn 33. “(I need to) sit down and talk to Mr. West. He wants that horse to develop, don’t get in a rush with things. We know he’s a really good horse.”
Concert Tour won the March 13 Rebel Stakes (G2) on the lead, a style Medina Spirit utilized successfully in the Derby, but Baffert appeared to suggest he would not let their similar styles preclude him from running both 3-year-olds.
“We just want to look at them, see how they’re training. They have to be doing really well,” Baffert indicated.
The Hall of Fame trainer has notched seven Preakness victories, matching his total from the Derby. He is the winningest trainer in both races.
Six of his seven Preakness wins came with horses that won the Derby. Two of those, American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018), captured the Triple Crown after winning the third and final leg, the Belmont Stakes (G1).
Now Medina Spirit is likely to get his chance.
“Can he win the Triple Crown? I don’t know. But he’s the Derby winner, and that’s all that matters,” Baffert said.
Caddo River , the April 10 Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up who did not run in the Kentucky Derby developing a temperature, is another speed horse that could join the Preakness lineup. Trainer Brad Cox indicated the colt would work May 3. His last breeze was April 23.
Owner John Ed Anthony, who races as Shortleaf Stable, won the Preakness twice when running as Loblolly Stable—in 1992 and 1993 with Pine Bluff and Prairie Bayou.
“We’ll see how he’s doing before we make any decision on where we are racing. Hopefully back on track,” Cox said of Caddo River.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen expressed similar sentiments about his two horses, Midnight Bourbon , a slow-starting sixth, and Super Stock , a non-threatening 16th. With six weeks between races leading up to the Derby, Midnight Bourbon would appear the more probable candidate for a quick return.
Skipping the Preakness is Rock Your World , the second favorite in the Derby, who finished 17th after exchanging bumps at the start with Essential Quality, costing the former an opportunity to secure a forward position. His jockey, Joel Rosario, had to regain one of his stirrups in the race after the early jostling, trainer John Sadler said, and the Santa Anita Park-based colt never got closer than 10th at any call.
“We’ll rally again another day,” Sadler said. “He’ll go back to California on Tuesday and for sure skip the Preakness. From there on out will be determined by how bright he looks. The Belmont is obviously a possibility. We’ll just see when we get home and regroup a bit.”
Also headed back to California is Hot Rod Charlie , according to trainer Doug O’Neill. “We’ll look to run him next in the Belmont Stakes,” the trainer said.
According to Mark Casse, Soup and Sandwich , last of 19th in the Derby after chasing the pace, displaced his soft palate during the race, which obstructed his breathing. Casse’s other Derby starter, Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Helium , ran eighth.
The 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes is June 5, five weeks after the Derby, and is a race New York-based trainer Todd Pletcher has won three times. Twice he won it with Derby competitors who sat out the Preakness—Palace Malice in 2013 and Tapwrit in 2017—and another time with Rags to Riches , a filly who had previously won the 2007 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat , this year’s Oaks winner for Pletcher, is under consideration for starts against males this year and could run in the Belmont, as could one or more of the four colts Pletcher ran in the Derby.
Running the best of his quartet in the Derby was Known Agenda , the Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa (G1) winner, who rallied for ninth after falling back in traffic early after starting from the inside post.
Pletcher said the Preakness was unlikely for any of his four Derby runners.
“I don’t like to make any decisions right away. All go back to Belmont and regroup and see how they train,” he said.
Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (G3) runner-up Unbridled Honor , owned by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm, could run in either the May 8 Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park or the Preakness, the trainer said Sunday morning. Pletcher plans to consult with Pope and Whisper Hill general manager Todd Quast regarding that colt’s upcoming race plans.
According to Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Trish Bowman, other Preakness possibilities include Lexington Stakes winner King Fury , who was scratched from the Derby with a fever, and Japan-based France Go de Ina, who finished sixth in the UAE Derby Sponsored By Emirates NBD (G2) in Dubai in his last outing March 27.
The Maryland Jockey Club operates Pimlico and Laurel Park in the state.
France Go de Ina, a son of Will Take Charge currently in quarantine in Japan, is scheduled to fly to the U.S. May 5, according to Pimlico publicity. He would then quarantine in Los Angeles for two days before flying to Baltimore May 7, the track said.