An unusual Triple Crown will reach its conclusion Saturday with 11 horses running for the Black-Eyed Susans at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland.
Headlining the field will be Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. Usually, the Preakness is the second leg of the three-race series and tests the top speed of the winner. At 1 3/16 miles, it is traditionally the shortest of the major races.
However, this year's field experienced a shortened Belmont Stakes. The usual Test of The Champion was reduced from its traditional 1 1/2-mile race to just 1 1/8 miles, turning it into much more of a sprint than its usual marathon.
This field looks quite a bit different than the one that opened the Triple Crown in New York, though. Only two horses—Max Player and Pneumatic—will have run in both races. The rest opted to skip the first leg but will try to show off their speed Saturday.
Here's a look at the complete lineup after Monday's post draw along with a look at some of those in the field best suited for the shorter race.
Preakness Post Positions and Odds
1. Excession 30-1
2. Mr. Big News 16-1
3. Art Collector 11-4
4. Swiss Skydiver 12-1
5. Thousand Words 8-1
6. Jesus' Team 33-1
7. Ny Traffic 20-1
8. Max Player 20-1
9. Authentic 5-4
10. Pneumatic 25-1
11. Liveyourbeastlife 66-1
Odds via OddsChecker.
At this point, Authentic has proved he's well-suited for any race. Given his performance at Churchill Downs, there's a strong case to be made he'd be in the running for the Triple Crown had he been entered in the Belmont.
Instead, he may just have to settle for two out of three, which isn't bad. Authentic was great in Louisville, but it wasn't even his top speed figure of the year. He posted a 113 Equibase speed figure at the Sham Stakes in January.
He posted a 109 in Louisville, which is plenty to make him the favorite to win in Baltimore. He showed his speed at the Haskell Stakes, where he outran Ny Traffic and Jesus' Team, two horses he will see again Saturday.
Authentic will break from the ninth gate, which shouldn't be an issue given his trip from the outside in the Derby. Previous winners from the nine post include Funny Cide and I'll Have Another.
Authentic is far from a sure thing but is definitely deserving of the best odds in the field.
If it weren't for a minor foot injury, we might be talking about Art Collector as the favorite in this race. The Florida-bred horse is a perfect 4-0 in his three-year-old campaign but was forced to scratch from the biggest race of the year before getting a chance to improve himself.
The question for Art Collector lies in his experience, though. He has yet to run in a Grade 1 stakes race. He impressed in the Grade 2 Bluegrass Stakes, but his other wins came in allowance races and the Ellis Park Derby.
Another criticism that is fair of Art Collector is the lack of races at longer distances, but that shouldn't matter as much at Pimlico. His longest race thus far has been 1 1/8 miles, so going 1 3/16 miles shouldn't be an issue.
Art Collector is one of the least experienced colts in the field, but that could actually work to his advantage. With the limitations on crowds to the COVID-19 pandemic and an extended race calendar, he should be one of the freshest horses on the track with room to improve.
If someone is going to pull off a surprising performance, it's the Tom Drury-trained horse.
Only five fillies have ever won the Preakness, but 2020 is a unique year. Swiss Skydiver is a contender to make an unusual racing year even more notable by breaking that record. The Kentucky Oaks winner enters the race with some of the better odds outside of the favorites.
She has made her connections plenty of money this season. As the fifth-highest-earning horse this year, her consistency has paid off in a big way.
She's made eight starts in 2020 and has hit the board in all but one of them. The majority of her races have been at a length of 1 1/16 miles, but she's shown a little extra distance won't hurt. She won the Alabama Stakes at 1 1/4.
In July she finished second only behind Art Collector in the Bluegrass Stakes. Swiss Skydiver doesn't quite have the resume to be considered a favorite but is a strong contender to at least hit the board, and 2020 is just odd enough that she could make history and it wouldn't be shocking.