Everything you need to know about the horses running the Preakness on Saturday (2024)

Immediately following Mystik Dan’s win in Kentucky Derby 150, trainer Ken McPeek said he wasn’t sure he’d send the colt to run in the Preakness.

His comment was met with widespread skepticism, and justifiably so: Last weekend, McPeek confirmed that his Derby winner would indeed contest the second leg of the Triple Crown.

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Two other Derby runners, Catching Freedom and Just Steel, will also run on Saturday afternoon.

Still banned by Churchill Downs from running horses in the Derby, Bob Baffert was expected to run two horses at Pimlico, including favored Muth, but Muth was scratched on Wednesday morning after coming down with a fever. With that change, Mystik Dan inherited the status of the favorite on the morning line.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there’s rain in the forecast for Saturday, as there was for the Kentucky Derby. That rain did indeed materialize in Louisville, but far enough before the race that the track ended up being rated “fast” by post time. The current forecast suggests that that will not be the case in Baltimore, so handicap accordingly.

Post time for the Preakness is 7:01 p.m. ET. CNBC will air coverage from 1:30-4:30 p.m. ET and it’ll switch to NBC at 4:30. Streaming throughout the day is available on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and Peaco*ck.

In post-position order, here’s your look at the field for the Grade 1, $2 million Preakness Stakes, with a focus on wet track performances, running styles, and race records. Good luck and safe trips to all.

1 – Mugatu

Owner: Average Joe Racing Stables, Dan Wells

Trainer: Jeff Engler

Jockey: Joe Bravo

Morning line odds: 20-1

He’s never run on an off-track. His only effort in a graded stakes race resulted in a fifth-place finish by open lengths. Could be one who flourishes on a wet track, but I’m passing. He was the second alternate for the Kentucky Derby, but did not run.

2 – Uncle Heavy

Owner: Michael Milam and LC Racing

Trainer: Robert Reid Jr.

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Morning line odds: 20-1

Well-known in the Midlantic, trainer Robert Reid might not be familiar to casual racing fans, but he’s got a reputation as a good horseman, and I think he’s got a shot here to win the biggest race of his career. The storyline is a good one — Uncle Heavy was bred by Reid’s sister-in-law Barbara and is named for her husband, Reid’s brother Mark — but beyond sentimental support, Uncle Heavy has a chance to upset on Saturday. He’s run twice on wet tracks, winning both races, including the Grade 3 Withers Stakes. His stalking style will be compromised if Imagination emerges as the lone speed (which is likely), but if anyone decides to go with Imagination, Uncle Heavy might be able to stick around at the end. He’s going to be on my tickets, on top and underneath.

Everything you need to know about the horses running the Preakness on Saturday (1)

Catching Freedom trains before the 2024 Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Justin Casterline / Getty Images)

3 – Catching Freedom

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables

Trainer:Brad Cox

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Morning line odds: 6-1

He’s pretty much a closer, which doesn’t bode well for his chances in a race that is unlikely to be contested as a speed duel. I thought he had a shot underneath in the Derby, and finished fourth by less than two lengths; he may well move up here, though I’d downgrade his chances on an off-track, at least for the win.

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4 – Muth

Owner: Zedan Racing Stables

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Juan Hernandez

Morning line odds: SCRATCH

Preakness favorite Muth has been scratched from Saturday’s race due to a high temperature.

5 – Mystik Dan

Owner: Lance Gasaway, 4 G Racing, Daniel Hamby III, Valley View Farm

Trainer: Ken McPeek

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Morning line odds: 5-2

In my Derby preview, I wrote, “Another who loves the slop — he won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park by eight lengths on a muddy track — and that may be the primary reason to consider him on Saturday, though his ability to rate off the pace in the Southwest after beginning his career as an early leader is a promising development. His performances have been inconsistent; the mud moves him up, but not enough to win.” OK, I was kind of right — and wrong. With Muth gone and two wins early in his career from on or just off the pace, and the possibility of rain, there’s nothing not to like about his chances.

6 – Seize the Grey

Owner: Myracehorse

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Jockey: Jaime Torres

Morning line odds: 15-1

One of the few horses here that has shown a proclivity for going to the lead and had success doing it. After a maiden win in which he led gate-to-wire — on a sloppy track — he’s become more of a stalking type, but might he try to engage Imagination early? Damned if he does, because Imagination is the better horse, and damned if he doesn’t, because he’s not good enough to close into the pace that Imagination is likely to set. He’s used to running against lesser competition, though he did win the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile last out — thinking that the distance will be his downfall and perhaps he is useful underneath in your betting.

Everything you need to know about the horses running the Preakness on Saturday (2)

Wayne Lukas, trainer of Seize the Grey and Just Steel, looks on during morning workouts before the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Rob Carr / Getty Images)

7 – Just Steel

Owner: BC Stables, LLC, Henry Schmueckle

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Morning line odds: 15-1

Just Steel initially ran with the pacesetter in the Derby, then faded badly to finish 17th by 33 lengths, and that strategy is unlikely to work here, either. He’s run poorly on off-tracks, and though he’s bred from Triple Crown winner Justify, who won this race in 2018 in one of the worst rainstorms I’ve seen at a racetrack, I don’t see him following in his father’s hoofprints.

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8 – Tuscan Gold

Owner: William H. Lawrence, Walmac Farm, Stonestreet Stables LLC

Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Morning line odds: 8-1

Very lightly raced compared to his rivals here, this $600,000 yearling purchase has only a maiden win on his resume, that coming in January. Trainer Chad Brown has seen him as a distance horse from the start, never running him at less than a mile, and while the talent is there, this feels like a big ask. No off-track experience and very little experience of any kind.

9 – Imagination

Owner: Zedan Racing Stables

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Frankie Dettori

Morning line odds: 6-1

He cost $1.05 million as a yearling, his ownership group includes some of the sport’s heaviest hitters and he’s got Baffert as a trainer and Dettori as a rider. On paper, everything about this horse screams “superstar.” In six races, he’s got two wins and four seconds, and like many a Baffert horse, he may well go to the lead and stay there, especially with no other frontrunners to challenge him. Three of his runner-up performances, including in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, have come by a neck. 6-1 feels generous, and I’ve got him as the most likely winner.

(Photo of Mystik Dan: Rob Carr / Getty Images)

Teresa Genaro is a contributor to The Athletic's horse racing coverage. A veteran turf writer, she has published work in The New York Times, The Guardian, Bloodhorse magazine, The Racing Biz, and New York Breeder and was featured in the PBS documentaries The Track at Saratoga: America's Grandest Race Course and Old Bones: The Story of Exterminator. She co-hosted a web series for The Racing Biz on diversity and equity in the horse racing industry. A native of Saratoga Springs, she teaches high school English in Brooklyn.

Everything you need to know about the horses running the Preakness on Saturday (2024)

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