Horse racing fans are eagerly awaiting the second leg of the Triple Crown. The Preakness Stakes is set for Saturday, March 20, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage leads the field for the big race, and he’s likely to be a very heavy favorite. Here’s everything New York horse racing fans should know ahead of Saturday’s main event.
Mage seeks another high-profile win
Mage wasn’t one of the highest-regarded Kentucky Derby contenders two weeks ago. He came in off of a second-place finish in the Florida Derby, and he was sent away at odds of 15-1.
However, Mage rallied from well back to be in contention turning for home. He and jockey Javier Castellano edged past runner-up Two Phil’s in that race’s final furlong to secure the upset victory.
The win was the first Derby score for his entire group of connections. That includes Castellano, a Hall of Fame rider who had been winless in 15 prior attempts to take down the “Run for the Roses.” In victory, Mage became just the second thoroughbred since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby after not having raced as a 2-year-old. That short list also includes Justify, the last horse to sweep the Triple Crown series.
If not Mage, then who?
In the Preakness, Mage will face six rivals, none of which competed against him two weeks ago. News broke Friday morning centering around a significant defection. Likely second choice First Mission was declared out of the race due to an injury.
This means Saturday’s Preakness will feature the shortest field the race has seen since 1986. With First Mission scratched, the second choice will almost certainly be either National Treasure or Blazing Sevens.
National Treasure is trained by Bob Baffert, who missed last year’s Preakness due to a suspension. He’s also been sidelined from the last two renewals of the Kentucky Derby due to a two-year ban imposed by Churchill Downs after the 2021 renewal. National Treasure hasn’t won since his very first start, but he was third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Blazing Sevens, meanwhile, comes from the barn of Chad Brown. Brown has won this race twice, with Cloud Computing and Early Voting. Like both of those runners, Blazing Sevens bypassed the Kentucky Derby, and in his case, he had enough points to run in that race after finishing third in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. He won the Champagne Stakes as a 2-year-old.
How to watch and bet on the Preakness Stakes
The Preakness will be broadcast live on NBC. Post time is shortly after 7 pm Eastern.
The race is the 13th of 14 events on Pimlico’s Saturday program. Advance deposit wagering platforms, such as FanDuel Racing, offer one-stop shops for viewing and betting on horse races.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez