Kentucky Derby Hero Mystik Dan Will Decide His Preakness Future

May 5th, 2024

Baffert Confirms Muth, Imagination for Triple Crown’s Middle Jewel

Lukas ‘Strongly’ Considering Seize the Gray for Preakness

Brown Will Look at the Preakness for Tuscan Gold

BALTIMORE, MD – Trainer Kenny McPeek said Sunday morning that the ultimate decision on running Mystik Dan in the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 18 at Pimlico Race Course depends on the newly crowned Kentucky Derby (G1) winner.

“We’re not committed to the Preakness. No, not yet,” McPeek said Sunday morning outside his Churchill Downs barn. “I ran him back once in two weeks and it completely backfired on me. We skipped the Rebel (because it was) back too quick as well. So we’ll just watch him over the next week. We’ll probably take it up to the last minute. But we’ll see. We’ll let him tell us. If he’s not in the feed tub, he won’t run. And he ran hard yesterday. Like I said, we’ll let him tell us.”

McPeek won the COVID-delayed Preakness in 2020 with the filly Swiss Skydiver. He said he’ll talk to co-owners Lance Gasaway and Sharilyn Gasaway (who is married to Lance’s first cousin Brent Gasaway) “and the team here. If I don’t think he’s right and ready, we’ll just wait for the Belmont.”

In his second start on Nov. 12, Mystik Dan won by 7 ¾ lengths at Churchill Downs. McPeek then ran him 13 days later in an entry-level allowance race, with the colt finishing fifth by a total of eight lengths.

Asked if Mystik Dan was different now, McPeek said, “Horses sometimes pop back quickly and sometimes they don’t. We’ll just have to take that as it comes. It’s too early to tell.”

Mystik Dan finished third in the March 30 Arkansas Derby (G1) after taking Oaklawn Park’s Feb. 3 Southwest Stakes (G3) by eight lengths in the slop.

McPeek said Mystik Dan likely would return to the track on Wednesday at Churchill Downs, but he could soon thereafter relocate to Saratoga, where the trainer will have a division.

“I think we’re going to go to Saratoga tomorrow (Monday),” he said, referring to his wife, “Sherri and I have a home up there. I’m going to get the stable set up. Better than average chance we’ll send him and some others straight to Saratoga.”

McPeek had said Saturday morning Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Thorpedo Anna could be a long-shot possibility to run in the Preakness, but he took that off the table Sunday. The filly would have to be supplemented into the Preakness for $200,000 because she’s not nominated to the Triple Crown.

Brian Hernandez Jr. has ridden in the Preakness Stakes four times, most recently finishing third in 2022 on the McPeek-trained Creative Minister.

“It’s definitely going to be a different situation,” Hernandez, who earned his first Triple Crown race victory in the Derby, said of riding Mystik Dan in the Preakness, should it be his next race. “We have two weeks going into Baltimore with the Derby winner. So I guess we’ll have a little more press on us than we normally do. We’ve ridden the Preakness four or five times, but have never gone in with the Derby winner, of course. Going in with Mystik Dan this year, it will be a little different, but we’re excited for it.”

Lance Gasaway said that if Mystik Dan comes out of the race well, “we’d love to” go to the Preakness.

“It’s all about the horse,” he said. “We’ll see how the horse comes out of the race. Let’s give him two or three days. If he comes out of it good, we’ll look at it. If not, we’re worried about the horse more than anything.

“No. 1 — if we go into the race, we want to win. I’m pretty sure (Bob) Baffert is going to have (Arkansas Derby (G1) winner) Muth in there,” he added. “You take those horses in there at full speed, who have been off a month and a half and we’re coming in off two weeks, that’s a big ask of this horse. Let’s see how he comes out of the race.”

Baffert Confirms Muth, Imagination for Triple Crown’s Middle Jewel

Zedan Racing Stables Inc.’s Muth and SF Racing LLC and partners’ Imagination will ship to Pimlico Race Course for the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 18, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed Saturday night.

Muth most recently captured the March 30 Arkansas Derby (G1), in which Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan finished third. Imagination finished second behind Stronghold in the April 6 Santa Anita Derby (G1).

Baffert has saddled eight Preakness winners, including Triple Crown champions American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018), as well as National Treasure last year.

Muth, a son of Good Magic, and Imagination, a son of Into Mischief, breezed in company at Santa Anita Saturday, both timed in 1:11.40 for six furlongs. The Baffert trainees are tentatively scheduled to ship from Southern California to Baltimore May 14.

Lukas ‘Strongly’ Considering Seize the Gray for Preakness

Myracehorse’s Seize the Grey will be “strongly, strongly” considered for the May 18 Preakness at Pimlico Race Course, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said following his triumph in the Pat Day Mile (G2) on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard. Jaime Torres was aboard for Seize the Grey’s 1 ¼-length victory at 9-1 odds over favored Nash.

“I think the 680 people will want to vote for that,” Lukas joked of Myracehorse, which provides the opportunity for people to buy fractional ownership in horses with the goal of being in the sport’s biggest races. “My vote will be the one that counts, but I’ll vote with them. We have nothing to lose. He earned his way to run in the Preakness. He’s qualified for it. He’s nominated for it. So why wouldn’t we give those people that opportunity? That’s what we’re getting paid for, to make that many people happy.

“If he pulls up well and everything is good tomorrow and the next day, we’ll strongly, strongly consider the Preakness,” he added.

Lukas has won the Preakness Stakes six times, most recently in 2013 with Calumet Farm’s Oxbow.

Brown Will Look at the Preakness for Tuscan Gold

Chad Brown ruled out the May 18 Preakness (G1) for Sierra Leone, who rallied to finish second by a nose in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1). However, he said the 1 3/16-mile classic could be an option for Tuscan Gold, the third-place finisher in the Louisiana Derby (G2) in his third career start off of a maiden race.

“I’m going to take a look at that horse training up until the Peter Pan,” Brown said of Saturday’s $200,000, 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan (G3) at the Belmont at the Big A meet. “See how the race comes up, see where he draws, because it’s likely to be a big field, I’m hearing. Keep an eye on that Preakness, and sort of go from there.”

Brown has won the Preakness twice, in his 2017 debut with Cloud Computing and in 2022 with Early Voting. Neither horse raced in the Kentucky Derby. He nearly won a third last year, with Blazing Sevens coming a head shy of wearing down triumphant National Treasure.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said via text that he is considering the Preakness with Informed Patriot, who earned a fees-paid spot in the Preakness by winning Oaklawn Park’s April 20 Bathhouse Row Stakes. Informed Patriot finished fifth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in which Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan was third. The winner that day was likely Preakness favorite Muth, trained by Bob Baffert.

Asmussen won the Preakness in 2007 with Horse of the Year Curlin and in 2009 with Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.

Robert Reid Jr.-trained Uncle Heavy is under consideration for the Preakness. Owned by Michael Milam and LC Racing LLC, the son of Social Inclusion captured the Withers (G3) before finishing fifth in the April 6 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct.

‘Win & In’ Qualifier Copper Tax Possible for Preakness

Copper Tax, trained by Laurel Park-based Gary Capuano for Rose Petal Stables, is possible for the Preakness. Copper Tax earned an automatic berth to the race by virtue of his three-quarter-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio April 20 at Laurel.

Capuano, who ran third in the 1997 Preakness with Kentucky Derby runner-up Captain Bodgit, said while a decision will be made in the coming days, Mystik Dan’s upset of favorites Fierceness and Sierra Leone may play a factor.

“It might thin the [Preakness] field out a little bit. We’ll see how it is in the next few days and see how things shake out,” Capuano said. “The door’s not closed yet. It actually opened up a little bit.

“Baffert is going to come with a couple real good horses and he’ll be the factor in there, obviously. The Derby winner, he got a great trip. He put himself in a good position,” he added. “[Copper Tax] is in good shape. Everything looks good with him. We’re still a little bit up in the air trying to figure things out.”

Purchased for just $45,000 as a yearling in 2022, Copper Tax has run 10 times with seven wins, four in stakes, including back-to-back victories in the Tesio and March 23 Private Terms, both going two turns at Laurel, where he also captured the seven-furlong James F. Lewis III last fall.

Copper Tax has yet to breeze back since the Tesio, delayed over the weekend by rainy weather.

“I did let him stretch his legs and gallop on pretty strong [Saturday] and he loved it out there,” Capuano said. “He’s doing good. We’ll see how this week goes, how the weather and the track holds up and how much I can do with him between now and probably the end of the week and go from there.”

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