Epicenter is a 6-5 Favorite for Preakness Without Derby Winner

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Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter was set Monday as the 6-5 morning line favorite for the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Rich Strike, the winner of one 2022 Kentucky Derby, is not running the Preakness.

The upstart won the Derby at 80-1, becoming the second-biggest long-shot horse in the history of the race. Rich Strike’s owner said he plans to enter the colt in the Belmont as the two-week turnaround did not offer the horse enough rest.

Kentucky Derby – the first leg of the Triple Crown – is traditionally held on the first Saturday in May at the historic Churchill Downs.

The surprise Derby winner is not in the field to contest the Preakness Stakes is scheduled for Saturday’s $1.65 million race.

Nine horses will contest for the 147th Preakness Stakes, traditionally held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

Preakness Stakes is run two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks before the Belmont Stakes – the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Epicenter Assigned No.8 Post

Epicenter was the first name drawn Monday and assigned the No. 8 post in the nine-horse field. The Kentucky Derby favorite and the eventual runner-up made the 6-5 morning-line favorite. The field dropped one Monday morning when Un Ojo, upset winner of the GII Rebel S, pulled out because of a foot bruise.

After the draw, Asmussen told the media it was ideal, adding that they were half as nervous as the draw for the Derby. “It’s a nine-horse field, plenty of run-up to the first turn. Several fresh horses and us returning in two weeks… it’s absolutely ideal.”

He said the reduction from 20 runners to nine – from Derby to Preakness – makes it much more beneficial to everybody as far as post-position draws go.

The draw was held to run the 1-3/16th-mile race at a lakeside restaurant in Baltimore on Monday.

Epicenter, trained by Steve Asmussen, was passed in the stretch by Rich Strike in the Derby earlier this month.

Second Preakness in Four Years Without Derby Winners

Kicking off the Preakness draw, emcee Britney Eurton recalled Rich Strike’s amazing victory as “one of the greatest upsets in sports history.”

However, she said despite the absence of the Kentucky Derby winner, there is no shortage of talented runners.

Rich Strike’s absence makes it the second Preakness in four years without the Derby winner. In 2021, Medina Spirit finished third at Pimlico after testing positive at Churchill Downs for taking a banned substance and was eventually disqualified.

In 2020, these races were disrupted by the pandemic. And in 2019, neither did Derby Champion Maximum Security nor elevated winner Country House run for the Preakness.

This year, Epicenter and fourth-place finisher Simplification are the only thoroughbreds back for the Preakness from the Derby.

Simplification is 6-1, assigned the no.1 post position, which will be run by jockey John Velazquez.

Early Voting, Second-Most Favorite at 7-2

Early Voting is the second-most favorite at 7-2. Trained by Chad Brown, the 2016 Derby third placegetter had skipped the Derby. Early Voting drew the no. 5 post position.

Secret Oath is likely to grab the Preakness limelight. A filly for 86-year-old trainer D. Wayne Lukas is at the no. 4 spot at 9-2 – the third pick in the race. Secret Oath is coming off a decisive win in the Kentucky Oaks.

Female horses have won the Preakness Stakes six times in the nearly 149 years of history of the race.

Secret Oath owner Rob Mitchell said he’s fine with the no. 4 post, feeling “happier” with that than he was after the post position for the Oaks.

Post Positions

  1. Simplification: 6-1
  2. Creative Minister: 10-1
  3. Fenwick: 50-1
  4. Secret Oath: 9-2
  5. Early Voting: 7-2
  6. Happy Jack: 30-1
  7. Armagnac: 12-1
  8. Epicenter: 6-5
  9. Skippylongstocking: 20-1

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