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McPeek Hopes to Win Preakness Under ‘Normal’ Conditions

Some trainers will tell you have they have an asterisk next to a major win because it came via disqualification.

Kenny McPeek’s 2020 Preakness Stakes (G1) victory with the filly Swiss Skydiver  does not have any kind of symbol attached to it, but it was the most unique running of the middle jewel in the Triple Crown.

It was a race unlikely any other in the Preakness’ storied 149-year-old history.


In  2020, because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Preakness was moved to Oct. 3 as the final leg of the Triple Crown with no fans in attendance, face masks everywhere, and none of the hustle and bustle attached to a race of its magnitude.

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“We had fun (in 2020),” said McPeek, who trains Kentucky Derby (G1) winner and likely Preakness favorite Mystik Dan , on the morning of May 16 at Pimlico Race Course. “The only difference is that there was no problem with parking then. No problem getting any tickets. No problem getting any hotels. So it was pretty much a straight line.”

Needless to say, the May 18 edition of the Preakness will be your typical jammed, boisterous day at Pimlico with a chance for McPeek’s 3-year-old to move one step closer to becoming the sport’s 14th Triple Crown winner.

“This is what you want. You want this atmosphere,” said McPeek, who, along with D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert, Nick Zito, and Barclay Tagg is one of five living trainers with a win in each of the three Triple Crown races. “You want people here. You wanted them connected to it all and seeing all of it. I’m glad we’re back to normal.”

He’s not alone in that belief.

Smooth day of training for Imagination

A day after morning-line favorite Muth  was scratched from Saturday’s Preakness, it was a quiet Thursday morning at Pimlico as race day approaches.

Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s on-site assistant, reported that Muth’s stablemate Imagination  galloped smoothly and showed no sign of the illness that knocked Muth out of the race.

“He went very nicely this morning,” Barnes said about the son of Into Mischief  . “He galloped a mile and three eighths and went over the track great and seemed to travel well. One more day, and it will be Preakness Day.”

Barnes said he was glad Muth’s illness was detected quickly.

“We caught it very early. You don’t even want to train them when they are like that. You don’t know when it will pop up and how it happens. That’s the way it goes,” Barnes said. “Bob will come up with another plan, whether it’s the Belmont Stakes (G1) or something else down the road like the Haskell (G1). The horse will tell us.”


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