Preakness Stakes 2020 preview: What to know about Saturday’s race

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An uncertain and historic Triple Crown draws to a close in October, months after it would normally end.

The 2020 Preakness Stakes, which was moved from Saturday, May 16 to Saturday, Oct. 3 (NBC, 4:30 to 6 p.m. ET), will be the race’s 145th running. The $1 million race will also air live on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app. Post time is set for approximately 5:40 p.m. ET.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no fans in the stands at the Preakness.

Kentucky Derby champ Authentic is expected to run in the Preakness even though there isn’t a Triple Crown on the line. His biggest competitor could come in the form of Louisville-based Art Collector, who was a major Derby contender before he was scratched just days before the race because of a minor foot issue. Authentic is the betting favorite.

Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law is bypassing the Preakness to rest up and prepare for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Keeneland.

Related: Preakness Stakes odds and post positions

What is the Preakness Stakes?

The Preakness Stakes is traditionally the second leg of the American Triple Crown of horse racing, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Preakness concludes the three-race series this year.

Like the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, it’s a Grade 1 Thoroughbred stakes races. The Preakness is 9.5 furlongs, or 1 3/16th miles long.

When is the 2020 Preakness Stakes?

The 145th Preakness Stakes is on Saturday, Oct. 3. Coverage begins on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app at 4:30 p.m. ET. Post time is set for approximately 5:40 p.m. ET.

Related: Stream the 2020 Preakness Stakes on NBC

Where is the 2020 Preakness Stakes? 

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.

How can I watch the 2020 Preakness Stakes?

NBC Sports is home to the 145th Preakness Stakes, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app before, during and after the main event. Coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. ET. Click here for more info on how to watch.

Who are the horses to watch?

  • There’s no Triple Crown on the line, but Kentucky Derby champ Authentic is the early favorite in the 2020 Preakness. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Authentic went wire-to-wire to hold off heavy betting favorite Tiz the Law. He also won the G1 Haskell in July and was second in the G1 Santa Anita Derby (his only career loss). He’s amassed almost $3 million in his six career starts. It’s been a roller coaster year for Baffert, but an Authentic win would be his eighth Preakness Stakes win, which would break his current tie with R. Wyndham Walden for all-time wins by a trainer.
  • Authentic’s biggest competition could come from the well rested Art Collector, who was hot on the Derby trail until a minor foot issue knocked him out. The colt, whose sire is 2006 Preakness Stakes winner Bernardini, is undefeated in his four starts this year, including the G2 Blue Grass at Keeneland in July and the Ellis Park Derby on Aug. 9. The year has been a Cinderella story of sorts for his trainer Tom Drury, a Louisville native who wasn’t even supposed to be Art Collector’s full-time trainer. Art Collector’s Blue Grass Stakes win was Drury’s first graded stakes win (which was later celebrated with beer and frozen pizza).
  • G1 Alabama Stakes winner Swiss Skydiver looks to become the first filly to win the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Only five fillies have won the Preakness in the race’s 144 editions, and was Ria Antonia (2014) was the last filly to run in the race. Swiss Skydiver finished second in the 2020 Kentucky Oaks behind upset winner Shedaresthedevil and also took second in the Blue Grass after Art Collector in a field of colts. Purchased for a mere $35,000, she has already earned over $1.1 million in her nine starts this year.
  • Baffert also fields Thousand Words, who was a last moment scratch in the Derby after he flipped himself over in the saddling area. He quickly got up on his own and a vet exam determined nothing had been injured or damaged during the incident. The inconsistent colt came at a whopping $1 million and had a strong start to his career and then went on a three-race skid before winning the Shared Belief on Aug. 1 and re-entering the Derby picture.
  • Mr. Big News got an odds boost after finishing third in the Kentucky Derby at 46-1. The Giant’s Causeway colt only has two career wins but enters the Preakness with 12-1 odds. This will be the first Preakness for trainer Bret Calhoun.
  • Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has a pair of Preakness Stakes wins with Curlin in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Both horses are now in the Hall of Fame. This year, Asmussen goes for lucky win number three and brings an eclectic trio to Pimlico: 30-1 longshot Excession, top-5 Belmont and Derby finisher Max Player and late bloomer Pneumatic.

Who won the 2019 Preakness Stakes?

Gary Barber’s colt War of Will won the 144th Preakness Stakes just two weeks after being majorly impeded by Maximum Security in the 145th Kentucky Derby. With now-Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse and jockey Tyler Gaffalione, War of Will ran in all three Triple Crown races last year, finishing 7th in the Derby and 9th in the Belmont.

He went on to finish an underwhelming 9th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last fall at Santa Anita before jumping from the dirt to the turf (grass) and focusing on the mile division. In July of 2020, he won the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland. Don’t be surprised if he makes an appearance in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November.

What comes after the Preakness Stakes? 

The world’s best horses—not just the 3-year-olds that compete in the Triple Crown—will head to Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 6 and 7. Though the event will be run without spectators, which has become standard for the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Breeders’ Cup will return to Lexington again in 2022.

Watch the Preakness Stakes 2020 on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. 

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”

Fractional interest in Flightline sells for $4.6 million

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland says a 2.5% fractional interest in Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Flightline has sold for $4.6 million during a special auction before the start of its November Breeding Stock Sale.

Brookdale Farm’s Freddy Seitz signed the ticket for an undisclosed client, the track announced in a release. The sale comes a day after ownership of the 4-year-old son of Tapit retired the unbeaten colt following his record 8\-length victory in Saturday’s $6 million, Grade 1 Classic at Keeneland. Flightline likely locked up Horse of the Year honors with his fourth Grade 1 victory in six starts by a combined victory margin of 71 lengths – dominance that has drawn comparisons to legendary Triple Crown champion Secretariat.

Flightline will begin his breeding career next year at Lane’s End Farms in Versailles, Kentucky, but a stud fee has yet to be determined. West Point Thoroughbreds, part of the bay colt’s ownership, offered the fractional interest. Seitz said the buyer wanted to “make a big splash” and get more involved in the business.

“With a special horse like (Flightline) all you can do is get involved and then just hope for the best,” Seitz said in the release.

“There has never been a horse that has done what he has done for however many years, back to Secretariat. You just have to pay up and get involved, and this is kind of what he’s thinking.”