The 2019 Preakness Stakes takes place at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday with Bob Baffert's colt Improbable the favourite to cross the finish line first.
Superstar jockey Mike Smith will be on board Improbable, and he will be aiming for another victory at Preakness. Smith rode Justify to victory at Pimlico in 2018 on his way to clinching the Triple Crown.
There will be some notable absentees from Saturday's race, as Kentucky Derby winner Country House has been ruled out with a virus.
Meanwhile, Maximum Security, who finished first at Churchill Downs and was later disqualified, is also missing after sustaining cuts to his hind legs, per Horse Racing Nation's Jonathan Lintner.
War of Will, Alwaysmining and Bourbon War are well-fancied by the oddsmakers, while Everfast, Market King and Laughing Fox are serious longshots.
Latest Preakness Odds (According to Oddschecker)
War of Will: 10-3
Bourbon War: 9-1
Win Win Win: 12-1
Warriors Charge: 14-1
Laughing Fox: 33-1
Market King: 33-1
Horses To Avoid
Everfast became the 13th and last horse to enter the Preakness Stakes after being added to the field just three days before Saturday's race.
The 100-1 shot's only career victory in 10 starts came on his debut at Ellis Park in August 2018. He finished fifth in his last outing in the Pat Day Mile Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Dale Roman told Bob Ehlat at Blood Horse why he had entered: "It's a wide-open field; we'll take a shot."
Everfast will start from post position 10 which Roman has said could be problematic, per Scott Jagow at the Paulick Report.
"It's a tough spot, but we're ready. We'll try and wiggle our way into a piece of it," he said. "He's done it before. We'll lead him over and see what happens. The post  will be all right. Hopefully, we'll get over by the first turn."
Everfast was a surprise late entry for Preakness and makes for a large field at Pimlico. His record means it would be a big shock if he were to snatch victory, and his odds make him a horse to avoid in 2019.
Market King is another longshot for the Preakness. However, owner D. Wayne Lukas has tasted victory six times in his race and is hoping he can get lucky again:
There had been doubts whether Market King would be able to enter the race in the build-up, but he has been officially cleared and removed from the veterinarian's list, according to Stephen Whyno at the Associated Press.
Yet there are doubts over whether Market King can handle the distance at Preakness and given the concerns surrounding the horse it is little surprise to see him come in at such a big price.
Safest Jockeys To Bet This Year
All eyes will be on Smith again at Preakness after missing the Kentucky Derby when his ride, Omaha Beach, was scratched after developing a cough, according to Melissa Hoppert at the New York Times.
He will now switch to Improbable at Pimlico Race Course, and co-owner Elliot Walden explained why he and Baffert had swapped Irad Ortiz Jr. for Smith, per David Ginsburg at the Associated Press.
"It's nothing against Irad. He rode him great in the Derby," he said. "It came down to a simple thing: Bob Baffert's had good luck with Mike Smith. Bob’s kind of a karma guy."
Smith clinched victory in 2018 despite encountering plenty of difficulties during the race:
Smith's success and experience make him the safest jockey to bet on this year, and it will be little surprise to see him cross the finish line in first place once again.
Meanwhile, Ortiz will ride Bourbon War and is optimistic about his chances, per Emily Shields at TVG.
"He's been training great at Belmont Park and is well rested for this race. I know Mark (Hennig) is adding blinkers, he wants to keep him focussed and make sure Bourbon War will be there when I ask him.
"This horse defeated Cutting Humor back in January. We should have enough pace in this the race, and the weather looks good for Saturday. I’m very excited."
Bourbon War has won two of his five races, comes into the race fresh and should have the pace to force his way into contention.
He looks set to be an outside bet for Preakness but in a wide-open field and with an experienced jockey on board he has a chance of springing a surprise on Saturday.