With the Kentucky Derby results still fresh in our minds, equestrian fans across the nation can rightfully adjust their radar to the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 21.
The Preakness is 1 3/16 miles, and the purse is a handsome $1 million. It is the second leg of the illustrious Triple Crown, along with the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.
Seven horses have punched their tickets to the Preakness, including Animal Kingdom, the winner of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday afternoon. Dialed In, the favorite to win at Churchill Downs, has been extended an invitation to race in the Preakness, but as of today trainer Nick Zito and company have yet to accept.
Nehro, the second place horse in the Derby, will likely not run in the Preakness, according to owner Ahmed Zayat.
"I would prefer, as of now, to run in the Belmont and maybe the Haskell and then we'll see,'' said Zayat, who added that his primary objective is to return to Churchill Downs in November for the Breeders' Cup Classic. "We'll take it a day a time, but we're probably going to point him to the Belmont. [The Preakness] is a possibility, but not probable.''
Animal Kingdom is likely to run in the Preakness, but his ownership group wants to make sure he is in good form to make the try. They are not willing to risk their prize colt's future when the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes is up for grabs on June 11.
"I'm pretty sure we're going to do it, but I want to talk about it," [part owner Barry Irwin] said Sunday. "I'm a careful guy, so let's see how he's doing. If you've got a horse that's amazing, you can go for the Preakness. But your regular, average Derby winner has a real tough time coming back."
Several other Kentucky Derby contenders will make another appearance on May 21 at the Pimlico Race Course. Mucho Macho Man (who finished third), Shackleford (4th) and possibly Midnight Interlude (16th) will race in the Preakness.
There are several new horses in the field as well. Watch out for King Congie, a horse that seems to favor races over 1 mile in length. The colt has won three races in the past six months of 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles. He could be my sleeper pick as we near the Preakness.
Keep checking back here for more coverage, as we're bound to bring wall-to-wall news and updates about the Preakness as it closes in on May 21.