The Preakness Stakes favorite scratches. What does it mean for the Kentucky Derby winner?

The chances of Mystik Dan following up his historic Kentucky Derby win with another triumph in the Preakness Stakes just got a whole lot better.

On Wednesday morning, Muth — the Bob Baffert trainee and the morning-line favorite for the Preakness — scratched out of the race because of a fever.

Baffert said Muth spiked a temperature of 103 degrees after arriving at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Tuesday night. According to Bloodhorse, the temperature range for a healthy thoroughbred is normally between 99-101 degrees.

Both of Baffert’s expected runners in Saturday’s Grade 1, $2 million Preakness Stakes — Muth and Imagination — shipped to Baltimore from their California base. It was an 18-hour trip by plane and van for both horses.

“We are sick about this. The horse had been doing really well. But we have to do what’s right by the horse,” Baffert said according to J.J. Hysell, a horse racing reporter.

Imagination is set to work out Thursday morning at Pimlico.

Several major storylines surround Muth now scratching out of the race.

Muth was previously the 8-5 pre-race favorite for the Preakness. That title now goes to Mystik Dan, the Kentucky Derby winner who was the second choice on the morning line at 5-2 odds.

The Kentucky Derby winner hasn’t gone on to also win the Preakness Stakes since 2018, when Justify did so as part of his Triple Crown campaign.

Muth and Mystik Dan were set to begin Saturday night’s race next to each other in the starting gate, with Muth having drawn post position 4 and Mystik Dan having drawn post 5.

The Preakness Stakes field now shrinks from nine to eight horses. Three of the eight horses set to run in the Preakness Stakes also ran in the Kentucky Derby on May 4: Mystik Dan won the Derby, Catching Freedom (post position 3 for the Preakness) ran fourth in the Derby and Just Steel (post position 7 for the Preakness) ran 17th in the Derby.

There’s also now a very real chance that Muth — considered one of the best horses in this year’s 3-year-old class — won’t compete in a single Triple Crown event.

Bob Baffert’s Muth was scratched from an expected start in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes due to spiking a fever. Muth was the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the Preakness.
Bob Baffert’s Muth was scratched from an expected start in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes due to spiking a fever. Muth was the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the Preakness.

Muth owns a 4-2-0 career record in six starts, and notably won the American Pharoah Stakes and the Arkansas Derby as part of the Kentucky Derby qualifying pathway. But Baffert’s continued suspension from Churchill Downs meant Muth couldn’t make the Derby starting gate, despite some last-minute litigation attempts from his owner, Amr Zedan (Zedan Racing Stables).

Muth now, obviously, also won’t run in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. The Belmont Stakes — to be run this year at a distance of 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga Race Course while Belmont Park undergoes renovations — will be contested June 8.

Baffert is the winningest trainer in the history of the Preakness Stakes. He has won the Preakness a record eight times, including last year with National Treasure.

He will still have a chance to extend that record wins total to nine with Imagination, who will leave from the furthest outside post in the Preakness.

Post time for the Preakness Stakes is 7:01 p.m. Saturday.

The complete field for the 2024 Preakness Stakes — from the rail out with trainers, jockeys and morning line odds — is as follows:

1—Mugatu (Jeff Engler, Joe Bravo, 20-1).

2—Uncle Heavy (Butch Reid Jr., Irad Ortiz Jr., 20-1).

3—Catching Freedom (Brad Cox, Flavien Prat, 6-1).


5—Mystik Dan (Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr., 5-2).

6—Seize the Grey (D. Wayne Lukas, Jaime Torres, 15-1).

7—Just Steel (D. Wayne Lukas, Joel Rosario, 15-1).

8—Tuscan Gold (Chad Brown, Tyler Gaffalione, 8-1).

9—Imagination (Bob Baffert, Frankie Dettori, 6-1).

Preakness Stakes

When: 7:01 p.m. Saturday

Where: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore

TV: NBC and Peacock.

Purse: $2 million (Grade 1)

Distance: 1 3/16 miles

For: 3-year-old Thoroughbreds

Favorite: Mystik Dan (5-2)

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