The grand finale of this year's Triple Crown stretch features some big guns promising the best race to date.
Thank Triple Crown contender American Pharoah as well as top competitors such as Frosted and trainer Todd Pletcher's appearance after a one-race hiatus.
So far, things are somewhat predictable. The spectacle at Churchill Downs entertained, producing a glimmer of hope American Pharoah could break the 37-year drought. Those hopes intensified at Pimlico in sloppy conditions thanks to a wire-to-wire victory.
Believe it or not, though, there are other horses to watch in the 1 ½-mile sprint, especially with so many different factors floating around. He's a look at a projected field with odds and a focus on some lesser-known names.
Projected Horses and Odds
|Tale of Verve||22-1|
Odds courtesy of Odds Shark as of May 30.
Notable Entrants to Know
When one takes the lengthy sprint akin to a marathon into account, international horses accustomed to such dashes must come to mind.
Mubtaahij fits the bill.
Trainer Mike de Kock's contender sat out the Preakness Stakes and will make his second American start in New York, where he hopes to improve on an eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby in which he pulled off an impressive rush near the end.
By the sounds of it, things look good so far, as De Kock's assistant, Trevor Brown, tells Jonathan Lintner of the Courier-Journal.
"He basically did exactly what we wanted him to. The important thing was just getting the jockey on him to give him a chance to get accustomed to the horse and get to know him. [Jockey] Irad [Ortiz Jr.] was pretty happy with the horse. He said he's ready."
In a field with some tired contenders and others just not used to such a distance, there's upset potential with Mubtaahij.
When it comes to Pletcher, most of the attention goes to Materiality, but it wouldn't be wise to let it pull focus away from Carpe Diem.
While Carpe Diem only finished 10th at Churchill Downs, he's also well rested and features the burst out of the gates and endurance over a long stretch to put on a strong showing.
Pletcher talked about Carpe Diem after a recent workout, per Lintner:
"I didn't see anything that would deter me from it. I'll see how they come out of it and talk with everybody, but we worked with the intention of running in the Belmont, and I thought they both worked well."
The crew around Carpe Diem wouldn't have waited and skipped Pimlico if it didn't like its chances in New York.
A winner in major races such as the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes, Carpe Diem figures to be in contention late.
Lost in the hype of Bob Baffert, Pletcher and others is Dale Romans, who trots a notable contender by the name of Keen Ice to New York.
Keen Ice finished just seventh at Churchill Downs before sitting out the Preakness, but the potential for a strong performance makes the Donegal Racing horse one to watch.
As Steve Haskin of the Blood-Horse points out, Keen Ice continues to catch the eye in practice:
So far, Keen Ice has yet to blow away the competition and live up to potential as of late, but it seems like New York would be the place to do it.
Well rested and free to run however he wants in what will be a much smaller field compared to the Kentucky Derby, Keen Ice figures to put on a strong display of endurance and push contenders late.
Like last year showed, anything is possible from any horse in the Triple Crown finale.
Stats and information via Preakness.com unless otherwise specified.