Mage’s path to the Triple Crown gets easier as Preakness field shrinks

Javier Castellano, atop Mage, parades on the track before the Kentucky Derby on May 6 in Louisville, Ky.
Javier Castellano, atop Mage, parades on the track before the Kentucky Derby on May 6 in Louisville, Ky. Mage won the Derby and was made the 8-5 favorite to win the Preakness.
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

Kentucky Derby champion Mage’s path to becoming the 14th Triple Crown winner got a little easier Monday, not because of his draw for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday but because competitor Disarm was pulled from the race.

Disarm, the fourth-place finisher in the Derby, was not entered in the Preakness and instead will be pointed toward the Jim Dandy Stakes and Travers Stakes, both at Saratoga in upstate New York. No explanation was offered for skipping the Preakness.

Before the draw Monday, assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr., son of Mage’s trainer, said he hoped Mage would draw to the outside. Instead, he got the No. 3 post. It really isn’t a problem with only eight horses in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.


Mage was installed as the 8-5 favorite, but most expect the colt to go off at even lower odds Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. He will be the only horse to run in both the Derby and Preakness this year.

Kentucky Derby hopeful Disarm works out at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Disarm works out May 3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The horse placed fourth in the Kentucky Derby but will not run in the Preakness on Saturday.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Pimlico is just glad to have the Derby winner in the field. Last year, Rich Strike, the 80-1 winner at Churchill Downs, skipped the Preakness because of the two-week turnaround. In 2021, Medina Spirit, then winner of the Kentucky Derby, ran under a cloud after he failed a drug test at Churchill Downs because of a race day medication. He finished third in the Preakness and was eventually disqualified as the Derby winner. The case is still being litigated.

First Mission (No. 8 post) was installed as the second favorite at 5-2 for Saturday’s race. He is lightly raced having only run three times, the same number of races Mage had run before winning the Derby. First Mission last raced in April in winning the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

The return of Bob Baffert and a handful of longshots add levels of intrigue to the Preakness Stakes. But all eyes are on Kentucky Derby-winning Mage.

May 15, 2023

Southern California has only one entrant in the race, National Treasure at 4-1. The Bob Baffert trainee will break from the No. 1 post with John Velazquez as the jockey. He won his first race last year but has not won since in four additional starts. He was fourth in the Santa Anita Derby.

Other horses in the race include Chase the Chaos (No. 2 post, 50-1), who won the win-and-you’re-in El Camino Real Stakes at Golden Gate Fields but finished seventh and eighth in his subsequent races; Coffeewithchris (No. 4 post, 20-1); Red Route One (No. 5 post, 10-1), Perform (No. 6 post, 15-1) and Blazing Sevens (No. 7 post, 6-1).