“I was more concerned about the Derby,” assistant trainer and co-owner Gustavo Delgado Jr. said after entries were taken and Mage was made the 8-5 morning-line favorite. “I think that every horse is going to have a decent shot, and hopefully the best one wins.”
Based simply on résumés, that case might already be made for Mage. With Disarm being withdrawn from consideration Monday morning, the Good Magic colt is the only Derby horse in Saturday’s $1.65 million race. The last time that happened in the Preakness was in 1948, when Citation lined up against only three other starters on the way to his Triple Crown.
“I read that, and I couldn’t believe it,” said Jimmy Barnes, trainer Bob Baffert’s assistant who is looking after National Treasure until the boss arrives in Baltimore on Thursday. “It seems amazing there’s only one. Oh, well. A field of fresh shooters, right?”
A maiden winner who was fourth last month in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), National Treasure will have blinkers added for a race that otherwise is lacking in speed. That means he and Hall of Famer John Velázquez may have the green light to floor it out of the gate as the 4-1 third choice in the program.
Although he did not bite on the strategy question, Baffert did admit he was not thrilled with the rail post that seems to follow him in so many big draws.
“Not ideal,” he said in a text message to Horse Racing Nation from California. “But post position is not that big a deal in the Preakness with only eight horses. You just hope our horse is good enough to win.”
Looking for a record eighth training victory in the Preakness, Baffert will be saddling his first horse in a Triple Crown race since Medina Spirit finished third in the 2021 Preakness. That came two weeks after a failed drug test led to a Kentucky Derby victory being wiped out and Baffert being suspended.
First Mission, who won the Lexington Stakes (G3) last month for trainer Brad Cox, was made Saturday’s 5-2 second choice by Maryland Jockey Club morning-line writer Keith Feustle after drawing the outside post. Luis Sáez will have the ride.
Blazing Sevens, a Grade 1 winner at age 2 and the third-place finisher in last month’s Blue Grass Stakes (G1), appropriately got post 7 and was made the 6-1 fourth choice. Four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will have the ride for trainer Chad Brown, who decided to not to go in the Derby even though this other Good Magic colt was eligible. The same strategy worked for Brown with Preakness winners Cloud Computing in 2017 and Early Voting last year.