Theres a good chance the $1 million Preakness will have its third 14-horse field since 1992 when Pine Bluff came from off the pace to triumph by three-quarters of a length.
Despite Super Savers impressive victory in the Kentucky Derby, 15 other 3-year-olds, including seven that bypassed Louisville, are under consideration for the 135th Run for the Black-eyed Susans.
While the Derby is restricted to 20 starters, the Preakness is limited to 14 horses in a three-tiered process to select the field.
The top seven are in based on graded stakes earnings, the Derbys only determining factor. The next four will run based on overall earnings, minus money banked in contests with conditions containing no restrictions other than age or sex.
The Preakness has attracted 10 runners or more in 15 of the last 18 renewals. The only time that many started in the Derby during the same period was in 94 when Go for Gin scored by two lengths in the slop at Churchill Downs.
Outside posts have not been kind to Preakness runners. Since 03, when such records were first kept, only eight have been victorious from post 10 and outward. Horses winning the Derby from those posts scored for the eighth time just going back to 92.
Surprisingly, the furthest post to produce a winner came last year when Rachel Alexandra scurried home in front after breaking from No. 13. Before that only two scored from post 12: Afleet Alex in 05 in a field of 14, and Pleasant Colony in 81.
Favorites also do extremely well in the second leg of the Triple Crown. During the past 18 contests, 10 triumphed. Only four Derby favorites in the same time span were successful.
In addition to Super Saver, trainer Todd Pletcher plans to enter Derby Trial runner-up Aikenite in the May 15 race. The son of Yes Its True galloped 1 3/8 miles at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
The most likely Preakness runners include a half-dozen others from the Derby:
Paddy OPrado, third: He galloped 1 « miles at Churchill Downs on Wednesday and will ship next week to Maryland.
Make Music for Me, fourth: His only victory in a route on the turf.
Nobles Promise, fifth: Son of Cuvee, who had the lead at the quarter pole, is headed to Pimlico.
Lookin at Lucky, sixth: Trainer Bob Baffert said the son of Smart Strike has a better chance of making the Preakness than pacesetter Conveyance, who ended up 15th in the 20-horse field. After favored Luckys extremely rough trip at Louisville, Baffert said, I quit watching him after the first bump. He was done. I wish (jockey Garrett Gomez) would have pulled him up.
Dublin, seventh: The son of Afleet Alex ran third in the Arkansas Derby two necks behind by Super Saver and Line of David.
Jackson Bend, 12th: Trainer Nick Zito is considering this colt over Derby runner-up Ice Box, who will be pointed toward the Belmont Stakes. The son of Hear No Evil jogged a mile.
Newcomers likely to run include:
Hurricane Ike, Derby Trial winner: Bay Shore runner-up breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 Tuesday.
Pleasant Prince, third in the Trial: Son of Indy King has five in-the-money finishes in nine outings, including a nose loss in the Florida Derby.
Caracortado, fourth in Santa Anita Derby: Colt won the first five races of his career.
By Greg Melikov