2015 Preakness Stakes Contenders

Coming just two weeks after the running of the Kentucky Derby, the scheduling of the Preakness Stakes is a serious concern for any prospective Triple Crown challenger.  The winner of the ‘Run for the Roses’ is usually in the field but other horses that ran well in the Kentucky Derby have options.  The quick turnaround also means that the field for the race won’t start to come into focus until after the Kentucky Derby.   Ultimately, most of the top Preakness Stakes contenders will be horses that raced in the Kentucky Derby or other top three year olds that for whatever reason weren’t able to qualify.


The 1 3/16 mile Preakness has the smallest maximum field of any of the Triple Crown races with a limit of 14 horses.   As is typically the case, the actual field of Preakness contenders won’t begin to be finalized until after the Kentucky Derby.  In fact, the qualification process for the Preakness should there be more than 14 horses entered gives preference to horses than ran well in the Kentucky Derby with those that finished ‘in the money’ guaranteed entry into the race.   The qualification criteria for the Preakness is less formal and regimented than that for the Kentucky Derby but gives preference to lifetime money winning in graded stakes races.  That stipulation and the trend toward oversubscribed fields means that there will be few ‘unknowns’ among the Preakness field.


The winner of the Kentucky Derby usually goes on to start in the Preakness in hopes of competing for horse racing’s elusive ‘Triple Crown’ unless there’s some sort of injury or other issue.  A number of the other horses that performed well in the Derby will also enter but not all.  Some horsemen will skip the Preakness due to the short 2 week turnaround after the Kentucky Derby while others may think that their horse will perform better at the longer distance and slower pace of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown held at New York’s Belmont Park in June.  Other than the winner of the Kentucky Derby, it’s not really possible to generalize about the decision making process of connections coming out of the race about running in the Preakness.  For many, the two week turnaround time is simply untenable.  Other horse owners may decide to get off the Triple Crown trail entirely and point toward other lucrative stakes races later in the summer.  On the other hand, some horses come out of the Kentucky Derby looking sharp and ready to go and perform admirably in the Preakness Stakes despite the short layoff.


The rest of the field will be comprised of horses that didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby for whatever reason.  Under the new qualification system for the Kentucky Derby there’s quite a few good three year old prospects that didn’t have enough points to make the race.  They’ll likely be seeking redemption at Pimlico in the Preakness Stakes.  Additionally some horses might not be deemed ‘ready’ for the challenge of the Kentucky Derby or could have more familiarity with the Pimlico track.