On Friday, it was made official: Kentucky Derby champion Medina Spirit will be racing in the 146th Preakness Stakes. And it's possible the colt could win at Pimlico Race Course too.
Following a failed drug test, Medina Spirit was required to pass three additional tests in order to be cleared to race in the Preakness, which is set for Saturday evening. Maryland Jockey Club and track owner Stronach Group consequently announced that Medina Spirit and Concert Tour, trainer Bob Baffert's other colt in the 10-horse field, will be allowed to compete.
Medina Spirit and Concert Tour have been the betting favorites heading into the race. If either is victorious, then Baffert (who has decided not to attend the race) will earn his eighth career Preakness victory to take sole possession of the all-time record.
Here's a look at the lineup and odds, followed by predictions for the top three finishers.
Preakness Lineup, Odds
1. Ram: 30-1
2. Keepmeinmind: 15-1
3. Medina Spirit: 9-5
4. Crowded Trade: 10-1
5. Midnight Bourbon: 5-1
6. Rombauer: 12-1
7. France Go de Ina: 20-1
8. Unbridled Honor: 15-1
9. Risk Taking: 15-1
10. Concert Tour: 5-2
Odds via Preakness Stakes.
Prize Money Predictions
Win: Concert Tour
Place: Midnight Bourbon
Show: Medina Spirit
The oddsmakers see these as the three horses to beat at this year's Preakness Stakes, and it's going to come down to this trio at the wire. And while Midnight Bourbon will finish ahead of one of the two Baffert-trained horses, the colt won't beat them both.
Concert Tour may not have the best starting position in the No. 10 gate. And perhaps he won't jump out to an early lead. But he's fresh, having not raced since the Arkansas Derby on April 10, so it may not take long for the colt to start working his way up through the field.
Don't be surprised if Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon are leading the pack early. Medina Spirit led from wire to wire at the Kentucky Derby. And while Midnight Bourbon got off to a slow start at Churchill Downs (resulting in his sixth-place finish), it's unlikely he will do the same at Pimlico, as that was a rare occurrence for the colt.
Jockey Mike Smith, a two-time Preakness winner, rode Midnight Bourbon in the Kentucky Derby. However, instead of staying with trainer Steve Asmussen's horse for the Preakness, he will be riding Concert Tour as he looks to be victorious at this event for the second time in four years.
"I would suggest that Mike thought he had a better chance to win on Concert Tour than Midnight Bourbon and that's why he chose it," Asmussen said, per the Associated Press (h/t NBC Sports). "Concert Tour's as fast as you can be. He is obviously a formidable horse."
Concert Tour may not have been at his best in the Arkansas Derby, in which he finished third, but he had won his first three career races. And once he gets to the front of the field Saturday, it will likely be tough for any horses to take back the lead.
Expect that to happen during the second half of the race. While Midnight Bourbon and Medina Spirit will battle it out for second and will try to overtake Concert Tour, they will be unsuccessful but still have solid finishes.
There may be just one concern regarding both of Baffert's horses battling for the win.
"The only thing I'd worry about is if they get in each other's way in a race," assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said, per the AP. "You've got to give them all a fair shot, and the best horse will win."
While Medina Spirit was the best horse at the Kentucky Derby, it's Concert Tour's turn. The horse was held out of the Derby in order to prepare for this race, and that decision will pay dividends as the trainer wins the first two legs of the Triple Crown schedule with two horses.
Concert Tour will edge Midnight Bourbon and Medina Spirit in a thrilling conclusion to this year's Preakness. And while several other horses are capable of strong showings, it's unlikely any of them will bump these three from the top spots at the finish.