What to know about the 144th Preakness Stakes

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After possibly the most memorable and historic Kentucky Derby in recent memory, all eyes are on the Preakness Stakes. For the first time since Grindstone in 1996, the Kentucky Derby winner won’t be running in the Preakness, leaving the field wide open. Maximum Security, the first horse ever to cross the Kentucky Derby finish line first and be disqualified for interference, is skipping the race. Country House, the controversial second place finisher who was elevated to first, began showing signs of a budding sickness and was pulled by trainer Bill Mott.

What is the Preakness Stakes? The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the American Triple Crown of horse racing. Like the Kentucky Derby, it’s a Grade I Thoroughbred stakes races. The Preakness is 9.5 furlongs, or 1 3/16th miles long.

The Preakness is run on the dirt track at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The race was first run in 1873 at Pimlico, but then moved to Morris Park Racecourse (now closed) in the Bronx, wasn’t run for three years, then jumped to Gravesend Race Track (also closed) at Coney Island before returning to Baltimore in 1909, where it’s stayed ever since.

See the post positions for the 2019 Preakness Stakes

When is the 2019 Preakness Stakes? The 144th Preakness Stakes is on Saturday, May 18. Post time will be at approximately 6:50 p.m. ET.

What’s the difference between the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby? The Kentucky Derby may be slightly older and more well-known, but the Preakness is distinct for several reasons. The field is smaller (13 horses are set to race in the Preakness compared to 19 in the Derby) and the distance is half a furlong shorter, but for any horse who just ran in the Derby, the two week turnaround time is the ultimate challenge.

Known for its raucous infield, the 2019 Preakness will feature artists Kygo, Logic, Diplo and others at its annual ‘InfieldFest‘ put on in the middle of all the action.

How can I watch the 2019 Preakness Stakes? NBC is home to the 144th Preakness Stakes, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV and NBCSports.com before, during and after. The 95th Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, a Grade II stakes race for fillies similar to the Kentucky Oaks, will air live the day before. NBC will also broadcast the 2019 Belmont Stakes. See the broadcast schedule here.

Who are the horses to watch?

  • Two-time Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert fields Improbable with Hall of Famer Mike Smith aboard. Improbable finished 4th in the Kentucky Derby, but the addition of Smith, who jockeyed Justify to win the 2018 Triple Crown with Baffert as trainer, might make all the difference.
  • Besides Improbable, Derby contenders War of Will (7th), Win Win Win (9th) and Bodexpress (13th) are projected to run. War of Will, trained by Mark Casse, was the most impacted by Maximum Security in the Derby.
  • Alwaysmining looks to become the first Maryland-bred horse to win the Preakness Stakes since Deputed Testamony in 1983. His Maryland-based trainer Kelly Rubley is making her Triple Crown debut. If he wins, Rubley will become the first-ever woman to train a Preakness winner.
  • The Ortiz brothers will once again compete against each other. Jose Ortiz is set to ride Anothertwistafate,and Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride Bourbon War.
  • Market King will become trainer D. Wayne Lukas‘ 44th horse in the Preakness, furthering his own record for most starters in that race.

Bettor’s guide to the 2019 Preakness Stakes

Who won the 2018 Preakness Stakes? WinStar Farm’s colt Justify, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, won the 143rd Preakness Stakes en route to his 2018 Triple Crown victory. He went on to win the Belmont Stakes to become the 13th-ever Triple Crown winner.

What comes after the Preakness Stakes? The 151st Belmont Stakes caps off the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 8 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. The Belmont could see a rematch between top Kentucky Derby contenders who skipped the Preakness because of its quick turnaround time. NBC Sports will have pre-race coverage beginning on Friday, June 7. See the full broadcast schedule here.

Preakness winner War of Will likely to run in Belmont

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BALTIMORE (AP) Owner Gary Barber called trainer Mark Casse for the fourth time in 11 hours since War of Will won the Preakness.

Only this time, Casse was in the middle of holding court with reporters the morning after his first Triple Crown victory.

“All’s good and we’re going to the Belmont?” Casse said to Barber with a Cheshire cat grin. “I was kidding. I was making that up.”

Well, not totally.

Assuming all goes well in the coming weeks, Casse said “there’s an extremely good shot” War of Will goes to the Belmont Stakes on June 8 in New York. If he wins, he’d be the first horse since Afleet Alex in 2005 to fall short in the Kentucky Derby before capturing the Preakness and Belmont and would be the front-runner for 3-year-old horse of the year.

“It’s the third leg of the Triple Crown, who doesn’t want to win it?” Casse said Sunday. “There are only three Triple Crown races, and they’re pretty important. I think if you can do it you should do it. …

“That’s what we do. We run.”

Those watching the Preakness saw a horse run the entire race and then some after throwing off his jockey out of the starting gate, a scene that – once it was clear rider John Velazquez was OK – served as a reminder of how much thoroughbreds love to run. Bodexpress provided a memorable spectacle as War of Will fulfilled his potential at Pimlico.

The Belmont is another substantial test for the tough and talented War of Will because it’s a third race in six weeks and is the longest of the Triple Crown races at 1+ miles.

There won’t be a Kentucky Derby rematch with Maximum Security, who was disqualified for interfering with War of Will, or Country House, who was placed first and since been sidelined by illness. And two-time Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert said he probably won’t take Improbable to the Belmont after finishing out of the money in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness as the favorite.

But War of Will could have to contend with Derby returners Tacitus, Master Fencer and perhaps Baffert’s Game Winner, along with Preakness surprise second-place finisher Everfast, third-place runner Owendale and ninth-place Signalman. Trainer Bill Mott ruled out Country House but is planning to take Tacitus to the Belmont and figures the gray colt will have no problem in a significantly longer race.

“He should handle it fine,” Mott said by phone Saturday. “My guess was that he’d handle the Derby distance fine, which he did. I was pleased. I think it goes the same for the Belmont. I think it’s within his grasp.”

If the Preakness had more than an extra quarter-mile, closers Everfast and Owendale might’ve put a scare into War of Will on Saturday. Everfast was a late entry by trainer Dale Romans three days before the race and opened at 50-1 but showed he might be a good long-distance runner.

“We almost had it,” Everfast jockey Joel Rosario said. “He ran great. We have a great shot at the Belmont.”

Tacitus, Everfast and Owendale will be strong challengers, but this should be War of Will’s Belmont to lose. Had he not endured such a rough trip in and been interfered with at Churchill Downs on May 4, there could be another wave of Triple Crown talk going on right now about a third winner in five years.

But Casse isn’t thinking about that, still grateful War of Will avoided going down in the Derby and was able to rebound and run well in the Preakness. He’ll monitor the horse back at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky, to make sure a sore foot and his energy level are good enough to run in the Belmont on a three-week turnaround.

Casse can’t predict how War of Will responds this time, but he knows what it would mean if the horse comes out on top once again.

“He’s just an athlete,” Casse said. “It would just show that he’s tough and able to overcome things.”

How Bodexpress ran the 2019 Preakness without a jockey

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An already-chaotic Triple Crown season took a surprising turn at the 2019 Preakness Stakes when the No. 9 horse Bodexpress went on a joy ride without his Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

Just two weeks after Maximum Security‘s historic and controversial disqualification in the 145th Kentucky Derby, War of Will, one of the horses most impacted by Maximum Security in the homestretch turn, crossed the wire first at Pimlico to win the 144th Preakness.

But all eyes were on Bodexpress

The moment the bell rang and the gates flew open, the Kentucky-bred colt jumped out and up, unseating Velazquez. The jockey landed on the dirt but got up and walked off the track under his own power.

“He was just not behaving well in the gate,” Velazquez said after the race. “He wasn’t standing well. He got me against a wall in the gate, and when the doors opened, I was kind of off right from the start and he jumped sideways. And I had my feet out of the irons, so I lost my balance and I went off.”

To the delight of viewers around the world, Bodexpress kept running, minus around 100 pounds of human. He kept pace with the pack for some time before falling back.

See the full race replay of the 144th Preakness Stakes

Horses are herd animals and Bodexpress was bred and trained to run, so it was no surprise that he kept going with the pack.

Outriders, the people on horseback around the track who help control the race surroundings, couldn’t chase him down initially because of how close he was to other horses. They tried to grab him as he turned towards the homestretch, but he dodged the attempt by scooting to the middle of the pack.

The 20-1 shot crossed the wire ahead of Market King, but his trip didn’t end there. He zoomed past horses as they were pulling up and ran an entire extra lap. When all was said and done, he was a little sweaty but in good health.

Stewards briefly flashed the inquiry sign because of his horseplay, but they quickly released it and named War of Will the official winner. Bodexpress was given last placed and named “did not finish.”

Trained by Gustavo Delgado, Bodexpress was a late entry into the Kentucky Derby after morning line favorite Omaha Beach scratched. The 71-1 longshot finished 14th at Churchill and was elevated to 13th. He has never won a race, with or without a jockey.

“I’m good,” Velazquez said. “I’m just disappointed.”

See Larry Collmus, voice of the Triple Crown, call the 144th Preakness