Owner George Bolton has had success at the Preakness, taking the title with Curlin in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Astrology didn't race the Derby because of a missed month of training that resulted from an illness last December. The talent is there, and unlike many of the favorites, he enters the race fresh. Astrology has finished in the top three in all seven of his starts, and if he can avoid getting trapped along the rail, he could stay in contention.
2 of 14Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
The horse -- named after the president and CEO of AAON, a manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment -- is the son of 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet. His biggest races to date both came at the Aqueduct -- second at the Gotham Stakes and fourth at the Wood Memorial. If he responds well to the deeper field at the Preakness and steers clear of traffic along the rail, he could keep pace with the leaders.
3 of 14Mark Zerof/US Presswire
Robby Albarado lost his spot atop Animal Kingdom the day before the Derby because of concerns that he wasn't fully healed from injuries suffered earlier in the week when his mount kicked him in the face. Although there doesn't seem to be any bad blood -- at least publicly -- Albarado surely would like to end Animal Kingdom's Triple Crown dreams with a win on his new horse. King Congie missed the Derby because of insufficient graded stakes earnings, but a third-place finish at the Blue Grass Stakes in April should give him confidence he can run with the elite horses.
4 of 14AP
Despite having enough graded stakes earnings, trainer John Fort decided to skip the Derby. Flashpoint, the fourth-place finisher at the Florida Derby, should be close to the lead early. His best strategy is to push the pace in the middle of the race. Doing that could force the strong kickers to play their hand -- either they keep pace and risk having nothing left at the end, or they drop back and chance falling too far behind. If the Preakness turns into a gut-it-out race, instead of a kicker's finish, Flashpoint's chances greatly improve.
5 of 14Simon Bruty/SI
He gunned it from the start at the Derby and led most of the way, but three horses -- including two who will race at Pimlico this weekend -- caught up to him on the final stretch. Since the Preakness is shorter than the Derby, the natural thought is that Shackleford will benefit. But it's just as likely the shorter distance will force other horses to stay close and therefore put more in line to outkick Shackleford at the end. Still, a fourth-place showing at the Derby makes him a contender. He has a good starting position and should get out quickly. The only question is if he can hold onto the lead down the stretch.
6 of 14Mark Zerof/US Presswire
His sire, Afleet Alex, won the Preakness in 2005, so there's hope that some Pimlico magic is in his blood. Sway Away failed to make the Kentucky Derby because of a lack of earnings, but his fourth-place finish at the Arkansas Derby, where he led for a short stretch before fading late, could inspire some hope. Off the right pace, he could find himself in the mix again. But it'll take a few breaks for Sway Away to finish near the front.
7 of 14AP
The Bob Baffert-trained horse was hoping to contend at the Derby, but he was never a factor and finished 16th. Baffert has said the Derby "woke" the horse up, and Midnight Interlude has posted some of his best workouts since the race. Jockey Martin Garcia will take over for Victor Espinoza, a switch they hope brings about a better result. Midnight Interlude drew a good post position, and he'll need to use it to stay close to the leaders. Otherwise, he'll languish at the back of the field again.
8 of 14Rob Carr/Getty Images
Is the third horse the charm? Todd Pletcher's top horse, Uncle Mo, was scratched from the Derby with an intestinal disorder. His next best bet, Stay Thirsty, struggled and finished 12th. Now, he's going with Dance City, who didn't run in the Derby but has a chance to prove himself at Pimlico. He finished two lengths back of winner Archarcharch in his third-place finish at the Arkansas Derby last month and should hang with the pack for most of the Preakness. Whether the rested horse has enough at the end will determine if he can surprise the field.
9 of 14AP
Mucho Macho Man
Coming off a solid race at the Derby -- where he took third, a neck behind Nehro -- Mucho Macho Man should be in contention again. But can he close well enough to beat a top-flight field of horses? He broke well and settled into the middle of the pack for most of the Derby, made a move and drew even closer to the leaders, but he never had that last surge needed to win. Can he find it this weekend?
10 of 14Eclipse/ZumaPress.com
The Derby favorite took a disappointing eighth, but finished strong and is still considered a threat to win the Preakness. Dialed In hung near the back of the field for most of the race but surged by 11 horses in the final half mile. He should benefit from a faster pace at the Preakness, one that will force him to keep closer to the pack. If so, the late-kicking ability that took him to a Florida Derby win in January could bring him the title at Pimlico.
11 of 14Bill Frakes/SI
The Kentucky Derby winner overcame long odds at 21-1. Now, the question is whether he can match his performance at a shorter distance. Animal Kingdom used a strong kick down the stretch to blow by the field, but he'll have 1/16 of a mile less to work with at Pimlico. He also benefitted from a slow pace at the Derby. It remains to be seen whether he can finish strong if the field goes out faster. Although Animal Kingdom has proven himself once, he's not a lock -- Derby runner-up Nehro was even the betting favorite until he withdrew earlier this week.
12 of 14John Iacono/SI
Isn't He Perfect
Another untested horse, Isn't He Perfect did respectably at the Wood Memorial, his one race against strong competition. He took fifth there and fifth again at the Jerome Handicap. Although those aren't bad finishes, he's not exactly lighting the track on fire. Maybe, in a perfect race, he'll be in contention. Otherwise, he'll be an also-ran.
13 of 14Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
The sire of Smarty Jones has never raced outside Maryland and may be in for a shock against the Preakness field. Even his owners aren't sure he's ready for the competition -- until Wednesday, they considered withdrawing and racing in the "undercard," the James W. Murphy Stakes. Concealed Identity's one advantage is familiarity with Pimlico, where he's won twice, including at the Federico Tesio Stakes, the local Preakness prep. But unless the improved competition leads to improved performance, he won't be a factor.
14 of 14Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Jockey Victor Espinoza left his Derby mount, Santa Anita Derby champion Midnight Interlude, to join the third-place finisher at the Santa Anita Derby. Mr. Commons didn't run the Kentucky Derby, and he'll need some breaks to land in contention down the stretch. He likes racing in the middle of the pack, and that's where he'll likely be this weekend. He rallied for third at Santa Anita, and he'll need a strong finish again at Pimlico to have a chance. Landing in the widest post position doesn't help his odds, though.
You May Like
More More Sports
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!