Harlem Rocker will skip the Preakness (gr. I) in favor of the Queen's Plate (gr. I-C) June 22 at Woodbine. <br><a target="blank" href="http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/photo-store?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fpictopia.com%2Fperl%2Fgal%3Fprovider_id%3D368%26ptp_photo_id%3D4304424%26ref%3Dstory">Order This Photo</a>

Harlem Rocker will skip the Preakness (gr. I) in favor of the Queen's Plate (gr. I-C) June 22 at Woodbine.
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Harlem Rocker To Skip Preakness

Big Brown’s task just got a little – or a lot – easier with the decision of Harlem Rocker’s owner Frank Stronach to bypass Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and await the $1-million Queen’s Plate at Woodbine June 22.

After winning his first three career starts impressively, including a decisive victory in the Withers Stakes (gr. II), Harlem Rocker was expected to take on Big Brown, runaway winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), in the second leg of the Triple Crown. The son of Macho Uno likely would have been the second choice and seemed to have the best chance to upset the Derby winner.

“We really believe the horse has a bright future, and (Mr. Stronach) decided to take a step back right now,” Adena Springs Farm managaer Dan Hall said. “Our next main objective will be the Queen’s Plate. Todd (Pletcher) is very high on the horse and wanted to run him in the Preakness, but we almost always take the conservative approach, so we’re going to be patient and stick to our program.”

Now, with Harlem Rocker out of the picture, as well as the Kentucky Derby fifth-place finisher Recapturetheglory, who ran an excellent race after throwing his rider in the tunnel and pressing the early pace, Big Brown stands out even more against 11 possible opponents who will have to improve in leaps and bounds in order to be competitive with the son of Boundary.

The one horse who could step up and pose the biggest threat to Big Brown is Kentucky Bear, who will be making only his fourth career start in the Preakness. The son of Mr. Greeley is coming off a big effort in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), finishing a solid third. Another colt who could be any kind is Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) winner Behindatthebar, whose best races have come on synthetic surfaces. In his only dirt appearance he finished fifth in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III).

Other probable Preakness starters are Giant Moon, Hey Byrn, Icabad Crane, Macho Again, Racecar Rhapsody, Riley Tucker, Stevil, Tres Borrachos, and Yankee Bravo.