The 146th running of the Preakness Stakes returns to its normal spot on the calendar, but that’s not what everyone is talking about. Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is the betting line favorite in the second leg of the Triple Crown, though he’s surrounded by controversy. With the colt’s inclusion in the Preakness in doubt following a failed drug test, he was eventually cleared to run and will look for another win in a shortened field of 10 horses. The big news is that legendary trainer Bob Baffert won’t be in attendance and his two entrants, who rest at the top of the odds board, will run under a microscope possibly hurting their chances of coming out on top. While the field is half of what we saw two weeks ago in Louisville, there are enough strong competitors to make for an interesting race.
The 2021 Preakness Stakes takes place on Sunday, May 15, from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD. Post time is 6:52 p.m. ET. The race will air live on NBC.
2021 Preakness Stakes Odds
Medina Spirit +180
Concert Tour +275
Midnight Bourbon +500
Crowded Trade +1000
Unbridled Honor +1600
Risk Taking +1600
France Go De Ina +2000
(Odds provided by BookMaker.eu updated Friday 1:35 p.m ET.)
Being the favorite doesn’t make Medina Spirit the best horse in the race. And it certainly doesn’t guarantee a victory. He was the sixth favorite at the Kentucky Derby with closing odds of 12/1 and fell into that mid-tier on the odds board where he wasn’t viewed as good enough to win and was too good to be an upset pick. Things have changed this week with a smaller field and a nice romp at Churchill Downs under his belt. We didn’t see that coming, but if any race has the potential for an upset winner this is it.
Judging by their performance on the track and Baffert’s history in the Preakness the favored duo of Medina Spirit and Concert Tour look hard to beat. And although he’s smack dab in the middle of the controversy I doubt Medina Spirit has any idea what the implications are. He is a horse after all. And while the field isn’t as big or as strong, the Derby winner will have a tough time getting that second leg of the Triple Crown, and the odds are much shorter this time around.
Only three horses in the field ran at Churchill Downs putting them at a disadvantage with only two weeks between races. That gives others a great chance of crossing the finish line first. And that really puts Concert Tour in a good spot. Let’s not forget he was Baffert’s top Kentucky Derby contender ahead of the G1 Arkansas Derby. Concert Tour grabbed the lead in that race but was tracked down and finished third.
He won his first three starts with a pair of G2 triumphs at the Rebel Stakes and San Vicente. He also led wire-to-wire in two of those. Taking the lead at Pimlico will put Concert Tour in a good spot to get the upset. “He should be a fresh horse. That was the idea of skipping the Derby. You get two more weeks and you have a little fresher horse,” assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said.
Given the controversy surrounding the handlers of the two favorites it would be a safe bet to jump further down the odds list. Next in line and the only other horse with shorter than 10/1 odds, Midnight Bourbon is worth a look. His only finish outside the top three in his eight races was at the Kentucky Derby when he placed sixth. It wasn’t because he was overmatched by the rest of the field rather a slow start out of the gate had him scrambling to work his way up. He has a favorable start from the fifth stall and the smaller field will play to his advantage.
There is a significant drop in odds and talent after the top three. That doesn’t mean the rest of the field has no chance, though. In fact upsets are a part of every sport including the ponies. One of the longshots that could make things interesting is Unbridled Honor, who’s looking to get trainer Todd Pletcher his first Preakness victory. He hasn’t raced since taking second in the Lexington last month giving him plenty of time to prepare.
Preakness Stakes Predictions
The three at the top of the odds board appear to be the class of the field and it’s just a matter of where they’ll end up in the pecking order. It remains to be seen just how much the controversy surrounding Baffert and Medina Spirit will affect them. And stablemate Concert Tour is collateral damage. Midnight Bourbon didn’t have the best run in the Derby, but he has shown to be a pace setter, and I like his chances on Saturday.
Preakness Stakes Finish:
1) Midnight Bourbon
2) Concert Tour
3) Unbridled Honor