Will Mystik Dan Run at the Preakness Stakes?

Two angles surround Kentucky Derby-winning Mystik Dan’s on-hold strategy for the May 18 Preakness Stakes. One concludes that the Preakness suffers a major identity crisis relative to the Kentucky Derby.

The Preakness is becoming cut off from its link to the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, its partners in horse racing’s Triple Crown series.

Trainers sensitive to their horse’s health and breeding capacity routinely bypass the Preakness. This was even after the track made a great move, raising the purse to a record $2 million.

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Why Couldn’t the Preakness and Belmont Stakes Each Be Moved Back 1 Week?

If this trend continues, the question is inevitable: why couldn’t the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes each be moved back one week? That would allow three weeks between each leg of the Triple Crown.

“You can understand both sides to this argument,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told Gaming Today.

“If you look at this as a traditional Triple Crown discussion, you’d say that a horse must match the conditions met by all other Triple Crown winners, in that they won three demanding races at different distances in five weeks.

“On the other hand, the safety of the horses is paramount. This could be too much on young horses.”

Especially when a great summer and fall campaign now augments the Triple Crown. The Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park unfolds on July 20. Then there’s the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 24 and the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 2.

The Triple Crown, great as it is, no longer defines horse racing.

If the Preakness and Belmont were moved back this year, the Belmont would be run on June 15, which is still plenty of time for horses to train for the Haskell.

Track officials rarely adjust the schedule of a couple of races without interrupting training regimens for other events. But this is that time.

Failing that, purists may regard the Preakness as an exceptional horse race but not one likely to include the Derby winner.

For his part, Avello said he believes trainer Ken McPeek will enter Mystik Dan at the end of the week. Most observers agree.

If that happens, this discussion may go on the back burner for another year. But it won’t go away.


EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article said that no Kentucky Derby winner ran in the Preakness Stakes since 2018, and this has been corrected.

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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