Improbable winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo

Improbable winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) – © Benoit Photo

Which horses are expected to compete in the 2019 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico? At this point, a better question might be “which horses are not expected to compete in the Preakness?”

The potential field for the second leg of the Triple Crown is still in flux, but it’s safe to say the biggest names will be absent from the May 18 classic. Country House, the official winner of the Kentucky Derby (G1), will miss the race with an illness, eliminating any chance of a Triple Crown sweep. Maximum Security, who crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby, will regroup for a summer campaign, as will the official Derby runner-up Code of Honor. Other prominent Derby starters, including Tacitus (third) and Master Fencer (sixth), are aiming for the Belmont Stakes (G1).

That leaves a slim group of Derby also-rans to wheel back in two weeks for the Preakness. Improbable, fourth as the favorite at Churchill Downs, could go favored again at Pimlico based off his strong juvenile form and his game, runner-up effort in the Arkansas Derby (G1) two starts back. Improbable is conditioned by the seven-time Preakness-winning trainer Bob Baffert, a fact that will attract support from bettors.

The only other Derby starters currently under consideration for the Preakness are War of Will, who finished seventh with a troubled trip; Win Win Win, who plugged away to finish ninth; and Bodexpress, who faded to 13th after getting squeezed out of contention on the far turn.

Newcomers to the Triple Crown scene will likely outnumber the Derby veterans in the Preakness. Three horses have earned free berths to the Preakness by virtue of winning stakes races across the country. They are Alwaysmining, an easy winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park; Anothertwistafate, dominant winner of the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields; and Laughing Fox, who unleashed a determined rally to win the Oaklawn Invitational Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

Anothertwistafate was under consideration for the Derby, but troubled trips in the Sunland Derby (G3) and Lexington Stakes (G3) prevented him from qualifying, so his connections regrouped and took aim at the Preakness. Similar circumstances befell Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) runner-up Bourbon War and the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) winner Signalman, so these former Derby contenders have targeted Pimlico for a rich and prestigious consolation prize.

Completing the current list of Preakness candidates is Owendale, who unleashed a sharp late rally to defeat Anothertwistafate in the Lexington Stakes. With five weeks of rest leading up to the Preakness, this improving colt could have a subtle advantage over colts like Bourbon War and Signalman, who have been sitting on the sidelines longer than expected after missing the Derby.

Be sure to check out all of BetAmerica’s Preakness Stakes coverage as the second jewel of the Triple Crown draws closer!