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Derby winner Mystik Dan draws No. 5 post for Preakness. Bob Baffert's Muth opens as the favorite

Horse Racing: 149th Preakness-Workouts
Horse Racing: 149th Preakness-Workouts

BALTIMORE — Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan drew the No. 5 post position in the Preakness on Monday looking to sweep the first two legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown, though he's not favored to do so.

Bob Baffert-trained Muth, just inside Mystik Dan in the No. 4 post, opened as the 8-5 morning line favorite Monday. Baffert, who was barred from the Derby because of Churchill Downs' ban on him that was extended, is also saddling No. 9 Imagination (6-1) as he goes for a record-extending ninth Preakness victory and second in a row after National Treasure won for him last year.

Mystik Dan is the 5-2 second choice in the nine-horse field for the 149th rendition of the 1 3/16-mile, $2 million second jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday. Muth beat Mystik Dan the last time they raced against each other: March 30 in the Arkansas Derby.

“With all the success Bob Baffert has had in the Preakness and the name recognition he brings, as well, it all adds up to Muth being a pretty solid favorite,” Maryland Jockey Club linemaker Brian Nadeau said. “Mystik Dan was 18-1 in the Derby, and when a long shot wins, sometimes the betting public is a bit slow to come around or believe.”

Mystik Dan is one of three heading to Pimlico Race Course after running in the Derby, joined by Brad Cox's Catching Freedom (No. 3, 6-1), who finished fourth, and D. Wayne Lukas' Just Steel, who faded to 17th, and opened at 15-1 leaving from the No. 7 post.

Two-time Preakness-winning jockey Robby Albarado, who has been riding Mystik Dan in the mornings for trainer Kenny McPeek, was hoping for No. 4 because his victories in the race were from that post. The most recent of which came for McPeek with Swiss Skydiver in 2020, when he and the filly beat Baffert-trained Authentic.

But, all in all, Mystik Dan's camp was happy with how the draw went down.

"Perfect - couldn’t have asked for a better one," assistant trainer Ray Bryner said. “He’s right in the middle of nine horses. We have the favorite inside us. Muth better look out.”

It's the first time since 2012 that the Derby winner did not open as the Preakness favorite.

“It takes the pressure off,” Albarado said. “No pressure not being the favorite.”

McPeek is hoping Mystik Dan can be the first horse since Baffert's Justify in 2018 to win the Derby and Preakness.

“There is hope,” post-position draw emcee Britney Eurton said. “There is hope of a Triple Crown.”

McPeek had not committed to bringing him back on a two-week turnaround until Saturday, when he was satisfied the colt bounced back well from his run to win by a nose over Sierra Leone and Forever Young in the closest Derby finish in half a century.

“He came back from the Derby just fine,” Bryner said. “The first day, a little tired, just a little quiet, but that’s normal. ... You go out and go run a marathon tomorrow and see how you feel the next day. You’re going to need a day or two to rest up. He’s done everything. He’s checked every box.”

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., whose elite ride got the job done May 4 in the Derby, will again be aboard Mystik Dan. Also running in the Preakness are Lukas' Seize the Grey (No. 6, 15-1), No. 2 Uncle Heavy (20-1), No. 8 Tuscan Gold (8-1) and No. 5 Mugatu (20-1).