The 2021 Preakness is one of the few races in the history of the American Classics that has controversy before the race even starts.
Medina Spirit will continue a bid to capture the Triple Crown. After winning the Kentucky Derby, the colt failed a drug test, resulting in trainer Bob Baffert receiving a suspension from Churchill Downs.
Whether Medina Spirit will remain the technical winner of the Derby will depend on the results from the split sample. The backup test likely won't yield results until after the Preakness has concluded.
If the colt's win is revoked the dream of a Triple Crown winner in 2021 will be over. Derby runner-up Mandaloun isn't entering the Preakness. It's a trend that several other Derby contenders followed. The winner is the only horse that finished in the top five who will start at Pimlico.
With the draw completed and the field settled, here's a quick look at each horse in the field and a prediction for where they will finish.
1. Ram (30-1)
Christina Baker and William Mack's Ram enters as the biggest long shot in the race for good reason. He has nine career starts to his name and has finished in the money in just three of them. None of them have been in graded stakes race.
The son of American Pharoah hasn't shown much of the talent from his sire. His highest Equibase speed figure is 88, which won't get it done on the shorter track at Pimlico.
2. Keepmeinmind (15-1)
Keepmeinmind was one of the biggest long shots in the Derby field and outperformed his odds with a seventh-place finish. The problem is that was pretty much par for the course in 2021. His three starts this year have yielded a sixth, fifth and seventh-place finish.
A slow starter, Keepmeinmind won't be helped by the 1 3/16th-mile distance in Baltimore. He put in a good showing in Louisville with a strong close in which he moved up the pack in the latter half of the race.
That style doesn't bode well for a better finish here.
3. Medina Spirit (9-5)
It's important to note the substance (Betamethasone) that Medina Spirit tested positive for is an anti-inflammatory. So while it's still an illegal substance, it's unclear how much better it made Medina Spirit in the Derby if the second sample ends up confirming the first test.
That being said, this is a horse that Baffert wasn't high on heading into the Derby. He said the eventual winner was a "cut below" the best horses in the field.
Medina Spirit is a talented colt, but it can also be true he was the beneficiary of a great trip and some contenders not catching good breaks. In essence, he was a great underdog in Louisville but doesn't inspire confidence as a favorite.
4. Crowded Trade (10-1)
Crowded Trade feels like an underappreciated contender in this one. He's been lightly raced with only three career starts but has finished in the top three in each of them. His latest start was a third-place finish behind Bourbonic and Dynamic One in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2).
He posted a 105 Equibase speed figure at the Gothan Stakes (G3), demonstrating the top speed it will take to win.
Given his limited experience, it's likely that we haven't seen the best of the Chad Brown-trained colt. Brown trained 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing so he has the knowhow to prepare Crowded Trade for this spot.
He's worth throwing on some exotics for those looking to widen their betting to the second cut of contenders.
5. Midnight Bourbon (5-1)
Steve Asmussen-trained Midnight Bourbon should be a beneficiary of the smaller 10-horse field in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
The colt was left with a difficult trip in the Derby, stuck on the outside desperately trying to make up ground late. The result was a sixth-place finish which was strong considering the race he was asked to run on the outside.
This time, with a less crowded field to navigate, he should be in a better position to push the favorites. A clean break and a smart trip from jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. could have him in position to pull off the upset.
6. Rombauer (12-1)
Rombauer is a bit of an outsider coming in. None of his connections have any Preakness experience, and he's only made starts in two races this year. He showed enough there to be in this pack, finishing third at Keeneland in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
Unless he starts more aggressively, it would appear his longer odds will be correct. Rombauer has shown to be a traditional closer in a race where most of the favorites are pacesetters.
7. France Go de Ina (20-1)
France Go de Ina is the ultimate wild card here. He was shipped in from Japan by trainer Hideyuki Mori after a disappointing sixth-place finish in the United Arab Emirates Derby. Despite that, it's hard to nail down exactly how he'll measure up to the American competition.
8. Unbridled Honor (15-1)
Much like Rombauer, Unbridled Honor is a classic closer who probably doesn't have the speed to make up ground on the front-running pack in this one. The most talented horses in the field also happen to be one's who look to start fast.
That probably doesn't spell good news for a horse whose speed figures have only been over 85 once in five career starts.
9. Risk Taking (15-1)
Chad Brown's other entrant is coming off a bad seventh-place finish in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) and has just two wins in five career starts. Has at least posted a speed figure of over 100 at the Withers Stakes (G3) in February.
10. Concert Tour (5-2)
Baffert had his eyes on this race for this horse before Medina Spirit had Triple Crown aspirations. That says something. Concert Tour has looked like an American Classic-winning horse in three of his four starts as a three-year-old before putting in an off day at the Arkansas Derby (G1).
But even that day included a 102 Equibase speed figure, which is higher than the best day many of the horses in the field have had.
The bottom line is that Concert Tour is the most talented horse in the field. If it weren't for Medina Spirit coming in as the Derby champion, he would likely be the favorite. After the disappointing Arkansas showing, Baffert has given his contender the time off needed to rest and be fully ready to win the Preakness.
That was likely the plan before his other horse won the Derby and the one most likely to play out Saturday.
Odds via Preakness Stakes