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Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan takes on 7 other horses in the 149th Preakness


Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan is looking for back-to-back Triple Crown victories when he t akes on seven other horses in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday night.

He would be the first to win both the Derby and the Preakness since Justify in 2018. That would set up a unusual and historic moment next month with a Triple Crown on the line at the Belmont Stakes, which is taking place for the first time at the Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York because of renovations at Belmont Park in New York City.

Mystik Dan will have to beat Bob Baffert-trained Imagination, Brad Cox’s Catching Freedom and Chad Brown’s Tuscan Gold, who are the main Preakness challengers and it could come on a muddy track with the possibiliity of rain in the forecast. Baffert was set to saddle two, but morning line favorite Muth was scratched during the week because of a fever.

“Catching Freedom trained really well going into the Derby,” Mystik Dan's trainer, Kenny McPeek, said this week. “He’s a very nice horse. And Bob, he wouldn’t bring a horse without it being a good horse, and Chad’s also got a horse coming out of (finishing third behind winner Catching Freedom in) the Louisiana Derby. Yeah, it's not a given.”

It was not a given McPeek would send Mystik Dan to Baltimore on a two-week turnaround from the colt's exhausting win by a nose in the Kentucky Derby. But he's one of three horses from that race running in the Preakness, up from one last year and two in 2022.

Many trainers' reluctance to do the Derby-Preakness double, once the norm for horses on the Triple Crown trail, has raised questions about the prestige of the middle jewel and concerns that it has become the unwanted stepchild of the series. There are debates about spacing the races out to adapt to modern thoroughbreds that race less frequently than in previous eras.

This will be the final Preakness at aging Pimlico Race Course as it stands now, with demolition set to begin early next year. The 150th running in 2025 will still take place at the track during construction before moving to Laurel Park in 2026 and then returning to a rebuilt Pimlico in 2027.


AP horse racing: https://apnews.com/hub/horse-racing