Normally, the Preakness Stakes serves as a proving ground for a given year's Triple Crown aspirant. That won't be the case Saturday after Authentic held off Tiz the Law in the Kentucky Derby.
Horse racing hasn't been immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the sport to significantly alter its 2020 schedule. As a result, the Preakness Stakes is the last leg of the Triple Crown and comes a little over a month out from the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Because of those two factors, the shape of the 2020 Preakness Stakes field didn't come into focus until the last few days.
Preakness Post-Position Draw
Date: Monday, Sept. 28
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Live-Stream Info: Preakness Stakes' Facebook page
Still soaking in Tiz the Law's defeat, trainer Barclay Tagg made it clear he preferred to prioritize the Classic over the Preakness.
That created a major question heading into the race, and Sackatoga Stable operating manager Jack Knowlton was unable to provide an answer less than two weeks out.
"I would like to make the Preakness," he said Sept. 21, per the Times Union's Tim Wilkin. "Of course, he would have to be 100 percent in order for him to do that. At this point, I don't know where he is."
One day later, Tagg erased any doubt, saying a Preakness victory alone wasn't enough of an incentive to force the colt to make the difficult turnaround between the two showcase events, according to Daily Racing Form's David Grening.
That made Authentic the heavy favorite to come out on top at Pimlico Race Course.
The three-year-old made a major impression in the Derby. Tiz the Law was riding a four-race winning streak that included a dominant performance in the Belmont Stakes. Jockey Manny Franco attempted to save Tiz the Law's energy for the final stretch, only to discover Authentic was simply too good.
Honor A.P.'s retirement provides Authentic with a clearer path to victory in the Preakness. A left tendon injury meant the 2020 Santa Anita Derby winner's race days are over.
That leaves Art Collector as the biggest threat. The Thomas Drury Jr.-trained horse prevailed in July's Blue Grass Stakes and in the Ellis Park Derby a month later. A foot injury prevented him from running in the Kentucky Derby.
Now, Art Collector will have his opportunity to finally make a statement on a Triple Crown stage.