This time of year, most racing fans are giving the lion’s share of their attention to the Kentucky Derby, a sliver to the Kentucky Oaks, and almost no attention to the other divisions or races in thoroughbred racing. It can be easy to forget that there are races other than the Run for the Roses and tracks other than Churchill Downs.
But looming large after the Derby is a race at “Old Hilltop,” Pimlico, the historic racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland: the Preakness. The second leg of the Triple Crown. The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans. You can check the current 2022 Preakness Stakes odds by TwinSpires here to see how it is shaping up.
And, for many trainers, an opportunity for glory after the Kentucky Derby shut them out.
Who will be running in the 2022 Preakness Stakes?
Much of the field for the Preakness will be composed of horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby. Interestingly enough, surprise Derby winner Rich Strike will not race in the Preakness Stakes. Instead, the horse will rest while the team will focus on the Triple Crown’s third stop, the Belmont Stakes, scheduled to take place in June.
The runner-up in the Grade I Wood Memorial, Early Voting is still listed as a Kentucky Derby participant, but trainer Chad Brown has not yet committed to running Early Voting in the Derby. A talented yet inexperienced son of Gun Runner, Early Voting showed in the Wood Memorial that he has not only a ton of speed but will not wilt when looked in the eye by a competitor.
Mo Donegal did eventually pass him, but he had to run the last quarter in under 24 seconds to do it, which is pretty fast for a three-year-old in the spring. If Early Voting spends the first Saturday in May freshening up in his stall, he could be a serious threat in the Preakness.
The winner of the listed El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields rarely makes it into the Kentucky Derby; however, they receive an automatic berth in the Preakness Stakes. Indeed, last year’s El Camino Real Derby winner, Rombauer, passed on the Kentucky Derby after finishing third in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes and ultimately proved victorious in the Preakness.
This year, Blackadder, a son of Quality Road, dueled with favored Mackinnon over Golden Gate’s Tapeta surface, and ultimately fought just hard enough to win by a neck. An attempt in the Blue Grass proved wildly unsuccessful when he finished a dull ninth, but the break time between the Blue Grass and the Preakness could prove to Blackadder’s advantage.
Ethereal Road is unlikely to gain a spot in the Kentucky Derby gate, sitting (at the time of this writing) at number 23 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard after a fourth-place finish in the Grade III Lexington Stakes.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is no stranger to the Triple Crown, and assuming Ethereal Road remains on the Derby bubble, it would not be surprising if he prepped this son of Quality Road for a start in the Preakness.
“The XX Factor”
This year’s Kentucky Oaks is headlined by four standout fillies: champion Echo Zulu, Grade I Ashland winner Nest, Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Kathleen O, and Grade III Honeybee Stakes winner Secret Oath. Should any of these fillies assert her dominance strongly enough in the Kentucky Oaks, their connections may opt to enter them in the Preakness?
The 2009 Oaks victor, Rachel Alexandra, demolished her fellow fillies and then won the Preakness en route to being Horse of the Year. In 2020, Oaks runner-up Swiss Skydiver took a chance against the boys in the Preakness and won a hard-fought battle against Derby winner Authentic.
Any one of the aforementioned horses could, at this point, be considered a legitimate Preakness threat. Ultimately, though, we will not have an accurate picture of the Preakness until the dust has settled at Churchill Downs.