Kentucky Derby favorite and fourth-place finisher Essential Quality will not run in the May 15 Preakness Stakes, but Derby champion Medina Spirit will face a challenge from talented stablemate Concert Tour as he tries to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Trainer Brad Cox told Sirius XM Radio that Essential Quality, who went into the Derby undefeated, will rest and could point for the Belmont Stakes. He said Derby runner-up Mandaloun is still in consideration for the Preakness as is Caddo River, who scratched from the Derby field because of an infection.
Meanwhile, Medina Spirit’s trainer, Bob Baffert, said Concert Tour will provide a fresh challenge to the Derby champion at Pimlico Race Course. Once thought to be a top contender for the Derby, Concert Tour finished third with a flat performance in the Arkansas Derby. So Baffert opted to skip the first leg of the Triple Crown in favor of more training. He was pleased enough with Concert Tour’s 5-furlong workout at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning that he and owners Gary and Mary West agreed on a Preakness run.
Baffert’s top assistant, Jimmy Barnes, said Medina Spirit is doing well at Churchill Downs and could jog as soon as Wednesday as he prepares to make the difficult two-week turnaround from Derby to Preakness.
Both Medina Spirit and Concert Tour will travel to Pimlico by van Monday or Tuesday because the flight service Baffert usually uses to ship horses from Kentucky to Baltimore is temporarily grounded.
Rombauer, third-place finisher in the Blue Grass Stakes for trainer Michael McCarthy, also has officially joined the Preakness field.
King Fury, who was scratched from the Derby because of a late-week fever, will not run in the Preakness after his temperature flared again this week, trainer Kenny McPeek said. His defection will deny McPeek a chance to repeat after he won last year with Swiss Skydiver.
Hall of Fame trainer and two-time Preakness winner Steve Asmussen said he’s considering running Midnight Bourbon, who finished sixth in the Derby after an awkward slip at the start of the race.
146TH PREAKNESS STAKES
Pimlico Race Course
May 15, 6:47 p.m. ET