Tue 02/01/2018 - 12:55 EST

2018 Road To The Preakness Stakes

2018 Road To The Preakness Stakes

Making The Preakness Stakes Field

Unlike the Kentucky Derby, which uses a system of qualifying races to fill out the field, there is no single route that horses take to get into the Preakness Stakes, although all runners usually are nominated to run in the Triple Crown series earlier in the year.

The owners of horses that haven't been earlier nominated to run in the Triple Crown but make a late decison to enter the Preakness must pay a supplemental nomination fee to do so. While the regular nomination fee for the Triple Crown series is $15,000 (plus an additional $15,000 to actually enter a Triple Crown race) the supplemental fee for late entries for the $1.5 million Preakness is $150,000. 

While the Kentucky Derby has a field of 20, the Preakness is restricted to 14 starters. As the Derby winner is the only horse with a chance to win the Triple Crown, the Derby winner will almost always run in the Preakness.

In fact, the last time a Kentucky Derby winner deliberately skipped the Preakness was way back in 1985, when the owner of Spend A Buck decided to go for a $2 million bonus offered by Garden State Park to any horse that won two Kentucky Derby prep races at the track, then the Kentucky Derby, then the Jersey Derby, which was held one week after the Preakness, too soon for the horse to run in both races.

Although Spend A Buck was denied a shot at the Triple Crown, the decision did pay off in that Spend A Buck won the Jersey Derby and the owner collected the $2 million.

Otherwise, the last Kentucky Derby winner to not run in the Preakness Stakes was Grindstone, when the horse was found to have bone chips in his knee only five days after winning the 1996 Derby. Since then every Kentucky Derby winner has next run in the Preakness. 

The 2017 Preakness winner, Cloud Computing, had just missed out on accumulating enough points to make the Kentucky Derby field, so was trained up to the Preakness. That might have been just the edge he needed, as he was able to catch and wear down Classic Empire in the late stages of the race, after Classic Empire had done all the "dirty work" by challenging and putting away Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming by the top of the stretch. 

Preakness Stakes Prep Races

Prior to winning the 2017 Preakness, Cloud Computing had only raced in New York State, running third in the (G2) Wood Memorial Stakes at Belmont Park, and second in the (G3) Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct Race Track, after getting his maiden win in his first lifetime start at Aqueduct.

By comparison, the 2016 Preakness winner, Exaggerator, was considered a "West coast" horse, as he had done most of his racing in California prior to running second in the Kentucky Derby and then winning the Preakness.

Before Cloud Computing, the last Preakness winner to not run in the Kentucky Derby was the filly Rachel Alexandra, who had run in - and easily won - the 2009 Kentucky Oaks instead. She led the Preakness field all the way around the track and held on to beat Derby winner Mine That Bird by a rapidly diminishing length. 

What this all goes to show from a handicapping perspective is that whether a horse runs in the Kentucky Derby or not, it's important to pay attention to all the horses' prep races in the weeks leading up to " The Run For The Black-Eyed Susans". 

You can bet all the prep races leading up to the Triple Crown, as well as taking advantage of lucrative future bet opportunities for the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, with an account at Bovada's online racebook.  

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