By Jarrod Horak
There are currently nine horses under consideration for Preakness 2023, and Kentucky Derby winner Mage is one of them. The lightly raced Good Magic colt came out of his victory on the first Saturday in May in good order. He was a 15-1 longshot last weekend and is expected to be the favorite at Pimlico. He returned to the track for the first time since his Derby surprise. On Tuesday morning, he jogged one mile and galloped one mile in the mud under the Twin Spires.
Disarm (4th) and Confidence Game (10th) are the only other two Derby entrants targeting the Preakness at this time. Disarm is starting to rack up races in a hurry. The LA Derby place finisher had to run three weeks before the Derby in the Lexington Stakes in order to secure enough qualifying points to run at Churchill, and he did just that with an okay show finish. He worked out a nice trip in the Derby and wound up a respectable fourth.
Confidence Game, upset winner of the Rebel Stakes on Feb. 25, came up short in the Derby as expected. That was his first start in ten weeks, and Keith Desormeaux’s Candy Ride (ARG) colt should be much fitter at Pimlico.
The most intriguing new shooter is First Mission. Brad Cox’s Street Sense colt has only started three times. He was clearly second best in his sprint bow on Feb. 18. He stretched out, stalked the pace, and cruised to a big maiden win at Fair Grounds on March 18. He stepped up to face stakes company in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 15, and he chased loose early runner Arabian Lion and got past that one in late stretch, and those two were well clear of show finisher Disarm.
National Treasure has not visited the winner’s circle since his debut score in a dirt sprint at Del Mar last summer, but he has run some quality races in the stakes ranks. He was second in the American Pharoah Stakes and third in the BC Juvenile and Sham. He was supposed to run in the San Felipe but had to back out of that race with a sore foot. He wound up an even fourth when last seen in SA Derby and he was clearly a short horse that day. Bob Baffert’s Preakness hopeful owns tactical speed and should move forward in Baltimore.
Perform will be supplemented to the Preakness for $150,000, his trainer Shug McGaughey confirmed. The son of Good Magic lost his first five career starts but really turned the corner in his last pair. He smartly rallied to break his maiden in a dirt route at Tampa Bay on March 11, and went last-to-first in a head victory in the Federico Tesio at Laurel on April 15. The latter was a Win and You’re In for the Preakness, but he was not able to take advantage of that perk because he was not Triple Crown nominated at the time.
Chad Brown saddled last year’s Preakness hero Early Voting, and he is back in 2023 with Blazing Sevens. He won the Grade 1 Champagne last fall and has not scored since. His up the track finish in his Fountain of Youth return was a puzzling performance, and he bounced back with a solid show finish in the Blue Grass Stakes.
Chase the Chaos earned an automatic Preakness berth with a win in the El Camino Real Derby in February, but was no threat in his last two stakes starts.
Red Route One picked up his first stakes win in the Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn on April 22, and that victory earned him an automatic entry into the Preakness. Steve Asmussen’s late runner is pace dependent.
As the field stands right now, the second jewel of the Triple Crown is seriously lacking horses with early-pressing speed, and there are no confirmed front runners. Confidence Game, First Mission, and National Treasure can be forwardly placed, and the other six hopefuls are patient runners. We will keep a close eye on the possible field to see if any early runners jump into the fray.
In other Preakness developments, Derby runner-up Two Phil’s will not run in Baltimore. His trainer Larry Rivelli thought the Preakness was too much too soon after such a gallant runner-up effort in the Derby. The Belmont Stakes is still in play, along with the Matt Winn Stakes. He could also rest and return in the summer. The Jim Dandy, West Virginia Derby, and Travers are possible targets.
Two-year-old champ Forte has been placed on the 14-day vet list in Kentucky for a bruised foot, and that makes him ineligible for the Preakness. He was forced to scratch from the Derby the morning of the race due to that tender foot. There is no word on his next start. His connections will know more after his foot heals.
Preakness 2023 Hopefuls (as of 5-9-23)
From the Derby
Chase the Chaos
Red Route One