With two-thirds of the Preakness Stakes field having already run at Churchill Downs May 4, much of the focus leading up to the Triple Crown’s second leg will be on those six horses, including the Kentucky Derby-winning Orb and his pursuit of the first Triple Crown in 35 years.
But a considerably smaller field means the three non-Derby entrants have a good chance of stealing the spotlight at the 138th running of the Preakness. In a field of nine thoroughbreds, no competitor can be overlooked, especially those trained by the likes of Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas and Albert M. Stall Jr.
Departing, Govenor Charlie and Titletown Five didn’t run at Churchill Downs, but all three should be considered contenders at the Preakness draws near.
Let’s take a look at the three non-Derby challengers and break down each horse’s chances of winning the Black-Eyed Susan Blanket at this year’s edition of the Preakness Stakes.
|2||Goldencents||Doug O'Neill||Kevin Krigger||8-1|
|3||Titletown Five||D. Wayne Lukas||Julien Leparoux||30-1|
|4||Departing||Albert M. Stall, Jr.||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||6-1|
|5||Mylute||Tom Amoss||Rosie Napravnik||5-1|
|6||Oxbow||D. Wayne Lukas||Gary Stevens||15-1|
|7||Will Take Charge||D. Wayne Lukas||Mike Smith||14-1|
|8||Govenor Charlie||Bob Baffert||Martin Garcia||12-1|
|9||Itsmyluckyday||Eddie Plesa Jr.||John Velazquez||10-1|
*Odds courtesy of KY Derby Contenders Twitter account.
No. 3 Titletown Five (30-1)
None of the non-Derby entrants were given a particularly poor post draw for the Preakness, though Titletown Five has arguably the toughest of any horse in the field.
With Orb in the rail post and Goldencents at No. 2, the colt may find himself quickly cut off from the front of the pack. If both jump out to a fast start from the gate (as they are known to do), Titletown Five will face an uphill battle to improve his position down the stretch.
The Lukas-trained thoroughbred doesn’t have particularly good odds of winning (as evidenced by his long shot standing at 30-1). Titletown Five has only participated in two races of a mile or longer, placing fourth and ninth in those events, and it remains to be seen how the colt will respond on a 1 3/16-mile track at Pimlico.
There will be bettors looking to cash in on Titletown Five’s lucrative odds, but the colt is a long shot for a reason. Don’t be surprised if he finishes near the back of the pack on May 18.
No. 4 Departing (6-1)
Despite not participating at Churchill Downs, Departing is one of the favorites to take down Orb at Pimlico this weekend—and for good reason.
The Stall-trained colt has finished first in four of five races since December, including a win at the Illinois Derby in April. His only non-winning finish came at the Louisiana Derby (third place), and each of his last three races were on tracks of a mile or longer.
The “New Shooter” (as non-Derby participants are sometimes called) certainly has a shot at upending Orb’s Triple Crown pursuit at Pimlico, especially from the No. 4 post. Titletown Five shouldn’t pose much of a threat on the inside lane, and Departing has the speed to edge out Mylute for positioning in the fifth post.
Not running at the Derby probably hurt Departing’s betting odds, but he should be fresh and ready to run on Saturday. Don’t be fooled by the 6-1 label.
No. 8 Govenor Charlie (12-1)
Like Departing, Govenor Charlie has been impressive on some longer tracks this year. The colt finished first in each of his last two races, each of one mile or longer.
Which New Shooter is most likely to upend Orb's Triple Crown bid this weekend?
Govenor Charlie had the resume to enter the Kentucky Derby on May 4, but Baffert withdrew the horse due to a foot injury. Provided the colt is healthy for Saturday’s race, he’ll be a considerable threat to Orb’s Triple Crown bid.
Baffert has a tremendous track record at the Preakness. Govenor Charlie will be his 14th competitor in the race, and the sixth potential winner for the Eclipse Award winner.
The No. 8 post shouldn’t give Govenor Charlie much to worry about. Only Itsmyluckyday flanks him to the outside, and the former should have plenty of space to emerge from the pack down the stretch, even if he gets off to a slow start from the gates.
At 12-1, the colt isn’t exactly a long shot, but don’t expect his odds to increase leading up to Saturday’s race.