The 147th running of the Preakness Stakes Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore has a tough act to follow after a shocking Kentucky Derby.
Rich Strike, who only drew into the Derby when Ethereal Road was scratched the Friday before the race, rallied along the inside under a brilliant ride from Sonny Leon in the stretch to win at odds of 80-1.
Then, last Thursday brought another shocking development with the news that Rich Strike will not run in the Preakness - the second jewel - of the Triple Crown.
His owner Rich Dawson and trainer Eric Reed made the decision to wait instead for the Belmont Stakes on June 11.
Thus, there will be no Triple Crown on the line Saturday.
It is the second time in the last four years the Kentucky Derby winner at the time of the Preakness did not run in the race. Three times in the last four years, the horse who wound up being the Derby winner did not run in the Preakness.
Country House (2019), who was put up as the winner when Maximum Security was disqualified for interference, did not run in the Preakness. Maximum Security also did not run in the Preakness.
Mandaloun (2021), who was declared the Kentucky Derby winner nine months after the race when the late Medina Spirit was disqualified because of a medication violation, did not run in the Preakness. Medina Spirit finished third in the Preakness.
However, the Preakness is still an intriguing race on paper with Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter and the filly and Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath headlining the field.
Coverage of this year's Preakness will be from 4-7:30 p.m. on NBC and 2-4 p.m. on CNBC. Post time is 7:01 p.m.
Here is the field in post-position order with the morning line odds.
1. SIMPLIFICATION 6-1
Trainer: Antonio Sano.
Jockey: John Velazquez.
Last race: Fourth in the Kentucky Derby.
Simplification ran a solid race in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 35-1. He made his rally on the outside and was seven-wide in the stretch. Sitting off the scorching early pace benefitted him, like it did Rich Strike. He has shown in past races he is capable of sitting closer to the pace. Hall of Famer Velazquez replaces Jose Ortiz. Ortiz chose to ride Early Voting.
2. CREATIVE MINISTER 10-1
Trainer: Kenny McPeek.
Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.
Last race: First in an allowance race at Churchill Downs.
Creative Minister was a solid winner of that allowance race on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure in that race. Another forward move will be necessary in his stakes debut.
3. FENWICK 50-1
Trainer: Kevin McKathan.
Jockey: Florent Geroux.
Last race: 11th in the Blue Grass.
The only win for the son of 2007 Preakness winner and Horse of the Year Curlin in six starts came in a maiden special weight race at a mile and 40 yards at odds of 21-1 at Tampa on March 12. He was then last - beaten 36 lengths - in the Blue Grass. He would be a surprise along the likes of Rich Strike.
4. SECRET OATH 9-2
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas.
Jockey: Luis Saez.
Last race: First in the Kentucky Oaks.
The daughter of the late Arrogate is trying to become the second filly to win the Preakness in the last three years. Swiss Skydiver edged Kentucky Derby winner and eventual Breeders Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year Authentic in 2020. She was third - beaten 3 1/2 lengths - in the Arkansas Derby in her previous race against the boys. Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife and runner-up Barber Road were 18th and sixth respectively in the Kentucky Derby. Hall of Famer Lukas trained the last filly to win the Kentucky Derby in Winning Colors in 1988. She will have to run a bit faster than the 94 Beyer Speed Figure she recorded in the Oaks to win.
5. EARLY VOTING 7-2
Trainer: Chad Brown.
Jockey: Jose Ortiz.
Last race: Second in the Wood Memorial.
The son of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner is the likely pace-setter. Brown chose to bypass the Kentucky Derby - a move that paid off for him and owners Klaravich Stables in 2017 with Cloud Computing. Early Voting set all the pace in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 before Kentucky Derby fifth-place finisher Mo Donegal ran him down in the final yards. He won the Withers at Aqueduct in February.
6. HAPPY JACK 30-1
Trainer: Doug O'Neill.
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione.
Last race: 14th in the Kentucky Derby.
Happy Jack was a non-factor in the Kentucky Derby - beaten 19 lengths. He raced in the back of the pack with Rich Strike during the sizzling early fractions, but never made a move into contention. He has been well-beaten in four stakes races since a win in his debut on Jan. 22.
7. ARMAGNAC 12-1
Trainer: Tim Yakteen.
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Last race: First in an allowance race at Santa Anita.
Armagnac will be coming back in 13 days to run here. He recorded a career-high 93 Beyer Speed Figure in his wire-to-wire 4 1/4-length score in that allowance race. He was well-beaten in both the Santa Anita Derby and San Felipe. He will likely be part of the early pace.
8. EPICENTER 6-5
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Last race: Second in the Kentucky Derby.
Many feel he ran the best race in the Kentucky Derby when he made a big move into the teeth of the sizzling pace on the far turn to grab the lead. He then kept eventual third-place finisher Zandon at bay in the stretch before Rich Strike roared by both in the final yards. He will likely be a solid favorite.
9. SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING 20-1.
Trainer: Saffie Joseph.
Jockey: Junior Alvarado.
Last race: Third in the Wood Memorial.
The son of 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator ran a solid race in the Wood Memorial. He finished 3 3/4 lengths behind Mo Donegal and 3 1/2 lengths behind Early Voting. He has never won a stakes race in nine starts. However, if it rains, he moves way up because his father was outstanding on off tracks. Exaggerator won the Preakness, Haskell at Monmouth Park and the Santa Anita Derby over sloppy tracks.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Preakness 2022: Post positions, odds, analysis