Even facing all new shooters, Mage will have to earn Preakness Stakes win

Not one of Mage’s 17 competitors on May 6 at Churchill Downs are back to take a second crack at the Kentucky Derby winner in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. That doesn’t mean Mage will have a free ride at Pimlico.

As expected, Mage was made the 8-5 favorite in the eight-horse field for the $1.65 million Preakness during Monday’s post position draw. Trained by Gustavo Delgado and ridden by Javier Castellano, Mage won the Derby in just his fourth career start and joined Justify (2018) as only the second colt unraced at two to win the “Run for the Roses” since 1882.

Still, the colt will have plenty of competition, starting with First Mission, winner of the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 13. Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Luis Saez for Godolphin, the son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense is 2-for-3 lifetime. First Mission is 5-2 in the morning line.

Having served his two-year Churchill Downs suspension, Bob Baffert is back in the Triple Crown with National Treasure, 4-1 in the morning line. The son of Quality Road finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby last time out. But Baffert has won the Preakness seven times, tying the record set by R. Wyndham Walden (1875-88).

Then there’s Blazing Sevens, 6-1 in the Morning Line for trainer Chad Brown. The son of Good Magic — also Mage’s sire — won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes last year. Since then, Blazing Sevens has finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland, a disappointing eighth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 4 at Gulfstream, then third in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 8. Brown has won the Preakness twice — with Cloud Computing in 2017 and with Early Voting last year.

Red Route One (10-1), Perform (15-1), Coffeewithchris (20-1) and Chase The Chaos (50-1) round out the field.

This is the first time since the Triple Crown races began their current spacing — two weeks between Kentucky Derby and Preakness; three weeks between Preakness and Belmont — in 1969 that only one of the Kentucky Derby runners has entered the Preakness.

That has led to more debate about whether they timing of the three races needs to be changed.

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