In less than a week, the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes will take place from the Pimlico race course in Maryland, and all eyes will be on Derby winner I'll Have Another.
This is because he will be trying to become just the 12th horse to capture all three gems of the U.S. thoroughbred Triple Crown, and the first in 34 years.
Affirmed was the last horse to achieve the feat in 1978.
I'll Have Another already won the Kentucky Derby on May 5th and on May 19 he will most likely face another full field of contenders who will try to derail him from achieving racing immortality.
The entries are not finalized as they will be drawn along with the final post positions next Wednesday May 16th. But as of now there are as many as 16 horses under consideration for the race.
At Pimlico a maximum of 14 horses make the starting gate, so should all 16 of those horses enter, the Preakness uses a three-tiered process to determine the final field.
The first seven of the 14 starters are determined by graded stakes earnings. Earnings in non-restricted stakes determine the next four; and the final three—as well as the two allowed also-eligibles—are based on lifetime earnings.
This means that right now there are seven from the Derby automatically in should they decide to run. Those are I'll Have Another, Bodemeister, Went the Day Well, Creative Cause, Liaison, Hansen and Optimizer.
From the new shooters are Cozzetti, Hierro, Isn't He Clever, Pretension, Teeth of the Dog, Tiger Walk and Zetterholm.
Brimstone Island and Guyana Dweej Star are right now just outside the Top 14.
One thing worth noting, trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Kirk Robison have yet to decide on whether to add Isn’t He Clever to the list. That could move Brimstone Island into the Top 14.
Let's take a look at each of the horses under consideration, their current Vegas odds—according to vegasinsider.com.
Trainer: Doodnauth Shivmangal
Owner: Shivmangal Racing Stable, LLC
Best Beyer: 84
Late running horse has just one win on a maiden special weight race on Apr. 7.
He has run all his races in New York and seems to make an effort on each race, but will make a huge step up in class here.
Jockey: Xavier Perez
Trainer: William A. Campbell
Owner: William A. Campbell
Best Beyer: 87
Interesting horse who was a low claimer—$7,500—who liked to run upfront before he was claimed by William Campbell.
Since then he has been running from off the pace and now has four straight decent non-graded stakes races finishes.
Can a horse that ran a $7,500 claimer win the Preakness?
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Trainer: Michael R. Matz
Owner: J.W. Singer LLC
Best Beyer: 93
After his maiden win he finished a decent third to Gemologist at the Wood Memorial on Apr. 7.
He is coming to this race very lightly raced, which has been improving with every race.
He likes to stalk the pace and presents an interesting choice for those looking for big odds here.
Trainer: Junior Alvarado
Trainer: Richard E. Dutrow, Jr.
Owner: Winter Park Partners
Best Beyer: 90
This is a deep closer who has been showing great ability to close well even when he has not gone beyond a mile-and-seventy-yards.
He comes with three straight wins including his last at the Patsyprospect Stakes on Apr. 6 at Aqueduct.
This is a big step up in class but has shown great ability so far.
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Trainer: Dale L. Romans
Owner: Albaugh Family Stables LLC
Best Beyer: 92
Deep closer who has been just a notch below the top tier competition this year.
He finished fourth, 10 lengths behind Boedmeister at the Arkansas Derby and was third 3.75 lengths behind Prospective in the Tampa Bay Derby.
So fair his stretch gains have been moderate on those races, and needs to move forward.
Jockey: Javier Santiago
Trainer: Christopher W. Grove
Owner: Kidwells Petite Stable
Best Beyer: 83
He seems like he didn't like the off-track at the Gotham finishing fifth nine lengths behind Hansen.
But then had an inexplicable horrendous race at the Illinois Derby—64 Beyer—and bounced back to win an all-race duel at the Canonero II Stakes while equaling his career best Beyer of 83.
That is a huge move forward and you have to wonder what a stalker like him can do here. Better, you wonder which race will he repeat.
Jockey: Kent J. Desormeaux
Trainer: Ignacio Correas, IV
Owner: Sagamore Farm
Best Beyer: 90
This is a horse who has been running with the big boys of the division on his last three races and just hasn't been able to get close enough to them.
He has been five lengths behind in the Withers and the Wood so he is not that far behind.
Works well, looks the part and now picked two-time Preakness winning jockey Kent Desormeaux for the ride here, so you can expect some improvement for this horse with great odds to bet on.
Jockey: Julien R. Leparoux
Trainer: Steven M. Asmussen
Owner: Stonestreet Stables LLC
Best Beyer: 96
The Derby Trial winner made a huge move forward in the slope and won impressively.
The questions regarding him are if it was the sloppy track that he loved or is he really improving this much?
Although he looks like he should handle the distance, the other thing to consider is that he goes beyond a mile for the first time.
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Trainer: Henry Rodriguez
Owner: J. Kirk and Judy Robison
Best Beyer: 99
The gelding received a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure for his Sunland Derby effort and had high hopes for the Arkansas Derby.
Then he finished a disappointing eight and never fired his best race. It was the first time he was out of the money.
He was taken out of consideration for the Derby, maybe to regroup him and take a better shot here. But there will be the lingering question regarding what happened on that last race.
Jockey: Corey S. Nakatani
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Owner: Bluegrass Hall LLC
Best Beyer: 91
His works say he is sitting on a big race, but just has not shown up on his last two races after a promising fast-closing second place finish to Secret Circle at the Rebel.
This is a horse that will need a fast-paced duel up front to begin having a chance to win here, which is not likely to happen, but stranger things happen in racing.
He picks up the mount of Corey Nakatani replacing Jon Court.
Jockey: Martin Garcia
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Arnold Zetcher LLC
Best Beyer: 92
He finished a surprising sixth-place at the Derby and had a 91 Beyer for that effort.
The surprising part of the effort might be that given the amount of quality horses he finished ahead of many of the big shooters there.
He started from post 20 and had to run wide all around a great effort and repeats the mount of Martin Garcia who's been aboard on both of the races where he had his best Beyer numbers.
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Trainer: Mike Harrington
Owner: Heinz Steinmann
Best Beyer: 102
The very definition of a work horse. He always tries hard and his Derby fifth-place finish, three lengths behind, was the first time he finished more than a length behind in a race.
At the Santa Anita Derby he finished a nose behind the Derby winner.
He had to run eight wide into the final turn and was running right behind the winner and just couldn't keep up with him.
He is a fresh horse that has been working real hard and like everyone else in this race, should benefit from a less crowded field—he showed he can run with the Derby winner before.
Jockey: Ramon A. Dominguez
Trainer: Michael J. Maker
Owner: Hansen, Kendall, M.D. and Sky Chai Racing
Best Beyer: 96
The two-year-old champ just couldn't keep up after chasing the pace set by Bodemeister.
As a matter of fact, only one horse caught Bodemeister and that was the winner.
We all know his best chances would come from running up front the way he likes.
Give this a thought: Picture the reversed roles on the gate this time, with Hansen way on the inside of Bodemeister.
It will be an interesting development to watch.
Jockey: John R. Velazquez
Trainer: H. Graham Motion
Owner: Team Valor International and Ford, Mark
Best Beyer: 97
If Bodemeister caught your eye for his exceptional front-running effort, you should also bring your attention to Went the Day Well's efforts.
Let's recap his race: he was bumped at the start, had to check twice before he reached the first turn, took a trip seven-wide and made a mad dash on the stretch to finish fourth just 2.5 lengths behind.
He lost at least 10 lengths on the trip alone and still got his best Beyer to date with a 97. This is a very fresh horse with a lot of upside.
Jockey: Mike E. Smith
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Zayat Stables, LLC
Best Beyer: 108
The Derby runner-up has everyone buzzing about his chances at winning the Preakness on a runaway.
The premise on this is that he should get an easier pace and should have plenty left in the tank this time to repel any closing efforts on the stretch.
Easy, right? Just remember when you consider placing your bets, this would be his third big race in three weeks and his sixth race already this year.
It's not as easy as it sounded before.
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Trainer: Doug F. O'Neill
Owner: J. Paul Reddam
Best Beyer: 101
The Derby winner seems like he had the perfect age-change development apart from his perfect trip at the Derby.
He has done everything outstanding this year and has answered the call and all challenges on every race.
He is a fresh horse, this will be just his fourth race this year and has been improving on each race.
Many think he has no shot against Bodemeister this time, but you should remember that just like his sire Flower Alley, this is a pace-stalking horse.
He just happened to be farther behind due to the 19th post position and should be closer this time.