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The 150th Kentucky Derby is in the books and it is time to turn the page to Preakness Stakes 2024. Derby hero Mystik Dan is not a confirmed Preakness starter at this point. His trainer Ken McPeek wants to see how his energy level is in the coming days before committing to the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Just Steel is the lone Derby entrant (17th in Derby) to be confirmed for the Preakness. He was a pace casualty at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, and the experienced colt might bounce back with a better performance for Wayne Lukas. 

The last time I checked in on April 23, Epic Ride, Encino, and The Wine Steward were on my Preakness list. Epic Ride ran in the Kentucky Derby and finished 14th. Encino was entered in the Derby but was injured and subsequently scratched. Lexington Stakes (G3) runner-up The Wine Steward breezed a half-mile in 47.40 (3/24) at Churchill Downs on May 6. Mike Maker’s New York-bred son of Vino Rosso might go next in the Grade 3 Peter Pan at Aqueduct on May 11. 

Jarrod Horak’s Top 7 Preakness 2024 New Shooters (5-6-24)

1 – Muth (Good Magic – Hoppa, by Uncle Mo) – Trainer: Bob Baffert (8 Preakness wins)

Comments: The likely Preakness favorite is very professional and all class. He always finishes in the top-two and is a 2-time Grade 1 winner (American Pharoah, Arkansas Derby). I went back and watched all of his works leading up to the Arkansas Derby and he just goes about his business. Baffert really tightened the screws on March 22 (1:12.40). He blew away Wynstock in a team drill that day and was strong on the gallop out. He won the Arkansas Derby 8 days later and subsequent Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan was 6 1/4 lengths behind him in third. Since his last start on March 30, he had a trio solid moves on April 12 (48 flat), April 21 (1:00.20), and April 28 (1:12.40), and Tour Player stuck right with him in the latter two moves. He got more serious in his latest move in company with fellow Preakness hopeful Imagination on May 4 (1:11.40). Muth was the more impressive mover of the two, and his final Preakness breeze should come somewhere around May 11.  

2 – Imagination (Into Mischief – Magical Feeling, by Empire Maker) – Trainer: Bob Baffert 

Comments: He is not completely polished at this stage but he clearly has talent. He easily outworked Well Funded on April 21, and looked good again in a team drill with Canada Gate on April 28. Muth was moving better in their company work on May 4, and they were asking Imagination to go on with it in the late going. His overall record is solid. Two wins and four runner-up finishes from six starts (1st G2 San Felipe, 2nd G1 SA Derby). He has a nice cruising speed and does not mind getting into a fight, but he lacks that burst of speed to separate himself from the pack. 

3 – Tuscan Gold (Medaglia d’Oro – Valadorna, by Curlin) – Trainer: Chad Brown (2 Preakness wins – Cloud Computing, Early Voting). 

Comments: The LA Derby (G2) show finisher still has some growing up to do. I watched his back-to-back team drills with Domestic Product on April 13 (48.40) and April 20 (48.40). He could not keep up with the Tampa Bay Derby hero on the 13th, and had to be pushed but was better on the 20th. I can see the raw talent in the morning and in his races, and there is more room for growth. He had one final move at Payson Park in Florida on April 27 (48.60), and he shipped to New York and breezed a half-mile in 48.90 (52/178) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on May 4. He is possible for the Peter Pan (May 11) and Preakness (May 18).  

4 – Seize the Grey (Arrogate – Smart Shopping, by Smart Strike) – Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas (6 Preakness wins)

Comments: Wayne Lukas has saddled the winner of the Preakness six times, so he knows a thing or two about winning the second jewel of the Triple Crown. As a juvenile, he was third in the Skidmore and fourth in the Grade 3 Iroquois (first Ky Derby points race). He returned with a nice optional-claiming dirt route win at Oaklawn on Feb. 24, and was third in the Jeff Ruby (G3), 7th in the Blue Grass (G1), and first in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard (one turn mile). 

5 – Uncle Heavy (Social Inclusion – Expect Wonderful, by Tiz Wonderful) – Trainer: Robert Reid Jr. 

Comments: Won the Wait for It Stakes at Parx late last year. He rallied wide to win the Grade 3 Withers by a nose (1 1/8 miles) from an outer post on Feb. 3, and raced wide and finished 5th of 12 from the outside post in the Wood Memorial (G2). Two works since the Wood and he could go in the Peter Pan (May 11) or Preakness (May 18).  

6 – Informed Patriot (Hard Spun – Yawkey Way, by Grand Slam) – Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2 Preakness wins – Rachel Alexandra, Curlin)

Comments: He was third in Street Sense (G3) and Smarty Jones (G3), and 5th in Sunland Derby (G3) and Arkansas Derby (G1). He exits a victory in the Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn, and that was a win and you’re in for the Preakness. He has stalking speed for Steve Asmussen. 

7 – Copper Tax (Copper Bullet – Wilhelmina, by Majestic Warrior) – Trainer: Gary Capuano

Comments: This win type is 7-for-10 for Gary Capuano. He stalked and scored as favorite from inside post in Private Terms (1 1/16 miles), and stumbled, raced wide, and closed from outside post (post 10) to catch lone speed Speediness in the Federico Tesio at 1 1/8 miles last time. He improved speed ratings last pair. In two graded starts, he was 6th in Grade 2 Remsen and 10th in Grade 3 Sam F. Davis. 

Jarrod Horak

Jarrod Horak posts stakes recaps from Del Mar and Santa Anita Park, along with full card recaps and free stakes picks from Southern and/or Northern California.