With the Kentucky Derby taking its toll physically on several of the top contenders, it looks as though no more than eight horses will contest the Preakness Stakes. The second jewel of the Triple Crown likely will attract the first three finishers of the Derby.
"I'll see what they look like when I go back to New York and check them out," trainer Bobby Frankel said of Empire Maker (second) and Peace Rules (third) from his barn at Hollywood. "We'll see. So far, it looks like both horses came out of the race in good shape. I'll probably work them four or five days out in New York, then ship to Baltimore on Wednesday."
Derby winner Funny Cide will work next Tuesday at Belmont and also will ship to Pimlico on Wednesday, although Pimlico officials are trying to talk trainer Barclay Tagg into shipping on Tuesday following his work.
The other confirmed starters are Eye of the Tiger, fifth in the Kentucky Derby; Scrimshaw, 11th in the Derby; Indian Express, 14th in the Derby after a horrible trip; and Champali, second in the Derby Trial. Bob Baffert still hasn't made up his mind regarding Crown Royal winner Senor Swinger, but he said if the son of El Prado trains well, there's a good chance he'll run in the Preakness.
"I just spoke to Bob Lewis, and he said he's willing to take a shot," Baffert said. "Pat Day said he'd ride him, so if I'm satisfied with the way he trains, we just might go. This horse is just learning how to run, and we can always go back to the turf later."
Pat Valenzuela will replace Tyler Baze as the rider of Indian Express, who remarkably emerged from his disastrous trip unscathed.
A remote possibility is the Neil Howard-trained Midway Road, but he is more likely for the Sir Barton Stakes at this point. Local hero, Cherokee's Boy, winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes, also is being pointed for the Sir Barton.