With Monday’s drawing at Pimlico Race Course for post positions in the Preakness Stakes this Saturday (October 3rd, 2020), we know the horses, jockeys, and trainers who will be in Baltimore this Saturday for the 145th running of what is usually the second leg of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing in the U.S but is, for this year, at least, the third and final stop.
Everyone expected Tiz the Law to be making an appearance, at least until Authentic won the Kentucky Derby in early September, which caused Tiz the Law (winner of the Belmont Stakes) to lose his opportunity to try for the Triple crown with a subsequent Preakness win.
The purse for this year’s Preakness is $1,000,000, and the traditional 16-horse race will be run at Pimlico by 11 contenders—late scratches notwithstanding.
Here’s what we know about those 11 horses that will be in the starting gate at Pimlico this coming Saturday. I’ve listed them by their drawn postpositions. Where applicable, I’ve also noted the 2020 top 100 jockeys in by ranking in parentheses after each jockey’s name.
The Horses, Jockeys, Trainers, and Odds
Jockey: Sheldon Russell
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
M/L Odds: 30/1
Like most of the entries in this year’s Preakness Stakes, Excession was one of the contenders on the road to the Kentucky Derby, pulling an early 20 points back in March with a second in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
#2 Mr. Big News
Jockey: Gabriel Saez (#42)
Trainer: W. Bret Calhoun
M/L Odds: 12/1
With no qualifying points, Mr. Big News was a late entry for this year’s Kentucky Derby, and while morning line odds for that race considered him a 50/1 longshot, he finished third, right behind Authentic and Tiz the Law. Needless to say, he’s not being underestimated for the Preakness. By the way, you can see what I had to say about him in my preview of Mr. Big News for the Kentucky Derby. Like the morning line for the Derby, I was wrong.
#3 Art Collector
Jockey: Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. (#23)
Trainer: Thomas Drury, Jr.
M/L Odds: 5/2
The morning line likes Art Collector in the Preakness, and his record of career starts says why: He won all four of his 2020 races—tough competitions that included the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and the Ellis Park Derby. He ran in his first stakes race a year ago, the Grade III Dixiana Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland.
#4 Swiss Skydiver
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Trainer: Kenneth G. McPeek
M/L Odds: 6/1
The only filly in the 11-horse Preakness field, Swiss Skydiver has shown time and again she has what it takes. She has won half of her ten career starts and finished in the money for four more. Her single no-pay run was a fifth-place finish in the Gasparilla Stakes (Black Type) back in January. If she crosses the Preakness finish line first at Pimlico this Saturday, she will become the sixth filly to win the Preakness in its 145-year history.
#5 Thousand Words
Jockey: Florent Geroux (#7)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
M/L Odds: 6/1
Oddsmakers had Thousand Words figured at 15/1 for the Kentucky Derby, but we’ll never know if he would have exceeded expectations because of a rearing accident that happened just prior to the running of the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Bob Baffert’s assistant had his hand broken, and Thousand Words lost his saddle as well as his shot at a Derby win: He was scratched from the race.
But life goes on, and Thousand Words is showing with recent workouts at Churchill Downs that he suffered no permanent injury from the incident. The morning line 6/1 odds for the Preakness certainly shows the oddsmakers have confidence in him. Here’s my Kentucky Derby thumbnail of Thousand Words.
#6 Jesus’ Team
Jockey: Jevian Toledo (#61)
Trainer: Jose Francisco D’Angelo
M/L Odds: 30/1
Jesus’ Team had already picked up some RTKD points with good finishes in the Pegasus Stakes and the Haskell Invitational this year, so he was a natural alternative under consideration for the Kentucky Derby as the Derby Day approached and the list of available competitors shortened. Instead, he wound up running in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on September 5th. He placed third behind Mystic Guide and Liveyourbeastlife.
#7 Ny Traffic
Jockey: Horacio Karmanos (#74)
Trainer: Saffie A. Joseph, Jr.
M/L Odds: 15/1
The long odds bookmakers posted for Ny Traffic’s chances in the Kentucky Derby were pretty accurate—he finished a poor 8th. But this colt has never been about flash; he garnered his RTKD points through a long succession of second and third-place finishes.
Max Player was another long-odds contender in the Kentucky Derby, and like those of Ny Traffic, his chances of winning the Preakness seem a bit overstated, although to be fair, he finished ahead of Ny Traffic—5th. If Max Player has any chance for a Preakness win, much of that chance is in the hands of ace jockey Paco Lopez.
Here’s what I had to say about Max Player for his profile for the Kentucky Derby.
Jockey: John R. Velazquez (#11)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
M/L Odds: 9/5
After his surprise win at the Kentucky Derby over the favorite Tiz the Law, it’s no shock to see Authentic is heavily favored to win the Preakness. In fact, his entire career has been a prelude to this: Five wins out of six starts (the single miss was a second in the Santa Anita Derby). And the competition has been tough: He broke his maiden in his first race, then immediately moved into graded stakes competition leading directly to the Kentucky Derby—and now, the Preakness.
You’d think the morning line would shine a bit brighter on Pneumatic. I mean, his record includes a fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, a third in the Matt Winn Stakes, and a first-place finish in the Pegasus Stakes. Long a contender for a gate position at the Kentucky Derby, trainer Steve Asmussen planned early to target the Preakness.
Jockey: Trevor McCarthy (#34)
Trainer: Jorge R. Abreu
M/L Odds: 30/1
Never a contender for the Belmont Stakes or the Kentucky Derby, Liveyourbeastlife is one of the two 30/1 longshots in the Preakness Stakes. After breaking his maiden his first career start, he showed little to suggest he might eventually qualify for the Preakness. His maiden race was followed immediately with a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Grade III Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct last November.
A long string of uneventful allowance races followed, until the Jim Dandy Stakes in early September, where Liveyourbeastlife finished second behind Mystic Guide.
Time to Place Your Preakness Bets
I’ll be doing a special Preakness Stakes Day blog covering the dozen stakes races at Pimlico this Saturday, including my picks for each race. Keep an eye on this section for that.