“Generally the Derby sort of calls out some of the ones that maybe don’t belong, and it’s a shorter field [in the Preakness] and maybe a little more truly run race,” Pletcher said.
Twenty-three of the past 27 Preakness winners ran in the Kentucky Derby, a good sign for Animal Kingdom, Dialed In, Midnight Interlude, Mucho Macho Man and Shackleford. But for new shooters like Pletcher’s Dance City, the Preakness “kinda becomes his Derby,” the trainer said.
Along with a search for vindication, there’s no shortage of motivation, either. Ritvo can become the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race. Astrology can become the first homebred horse of the late Jess Jackson to do the same.
“Obviously it means the most to the Derby winner,” Pletcher said.
A victory by Animal Kingdom would be another step toward stopping the Triple Crown drought at 32 years. The widely held thought is that if Motion’s horse runs the same as he did in the Derby, he’ll take that step.
But with every trainer and owner hoping and expecting for the best, a line from Astrology’s trainer, Steve Asmussen, could stand for just about every horse who will leave the starting gates just after 6:20 EST Saturday evening.
“He has the right pedigree and the right look,” Asmussen said, “And he has to win the right race.”
And everyone is hoping the Preakness is the right race for their horse.