(Muth / Benoit Photo & Courtesy of Santa Anita)

(Mystik Dan installed as 2nd favorite for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Pimlico Media Team:

Muth Installed as 8-5 Morning-Line Favorite for Saturday’s 149th Preakness

Derby Winner Mystik Dan Rated Second at 5-2 for Middle Jewel of Triple Crown

Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Muth was installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course following Monday’s post-position draw. Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Mystik Dan was rated second at 5-2 by Maryland Jockey Club linemaker Brian Nadeau after drawing Post 5 for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Muth, who drew Post 4 for the Preakness, is one of two horses trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert in a nine-horse field entered Monday. Baffert is also scheduled to saddle Imagination, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) runner-up who is rated third at 6-1, along with Derby fourth-place finisher Catching Freedom.

Should Muth go to post as the favorite for the 149th running of the Preakness, it would be the first time that a Derby winner wasn’t the starting favorite since 2012, when I’ll Have Another (3-1) followed up his Derby score with a victory in the Preakness by a neck over 17-10 favorite Bodemeister.

“Muth was a pretty easy morning-line favorite to come up with for a few different reasons. First, he comfortably beat Mystik Dan in the Arkansas Derby. Second, with all the success Bob Baffert has had in the Preakness and the name recognition he brings as well, it all adds up to Muth being a pretty solid favorite,” Nadeau said. “And lastly, Mystik Dan was 18-1 in the Derby, and when a longshot wins, sometimes the betting public is a bit slow to come around or believe.”

Zedan Racing Stables Inc.’s Muth won by three lengths in the March 30 Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park’s Kentucky Derby prep in which Mystik Dan finished a rallying third, 6 ½ lengths behind the winner.

Baffert will be shooting for his record-extending ninth Preakness Stakes victory Saturday with Muth and Imagination, who were ineligible to run in the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby May 4.

On Muth drawing Post 4, one stall inside Mystik Dan, and Imagination drawing Post 9:

“I think it’s fine. Nine horses. That’s manageable. It’s a very competitive field. I’d like to have drawn a little closer with Imagination. Whatever, he can work a trip.,” said Baffert, whose eight Preakness winners include Triple Crown champions American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).

“(Muth) is a nice horse. He won his last out (Arkansas Derby). At the end of the day, Mystik Dan is going to get a lot of support. Just being there with two nice horses, to me, with a competitive field, it’s going to be a good race,” he added.

Juan Hernandez, who has been aboard Muth in all of his six starts, has the return mount on the son of Good Magic. International riding star Frankie Dettori returns aboard SF Racing and partners’ Imagination in the 1 3/16-mile spring classic.

Lance Gasaway, 4 G Racing LLC, Daniel Hamby III and Valley View Farm LLC’s Mystik Dan, who won the Southwest (G2) by eight lengths over a muddy Oaklawn track before finishing third in the Arkansas Derby, prevailed by a nose over Sierra Leone in a blanket finish with Forever Young in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Goldencents is trained by Kenny McPeek, who saddled filly Swiss Skydiver for a win over Kentucky Derby winner Authentic in the 2020 Preakness.

“I thought it was perfect. Right next to Muth. Perfect. Hopefully, we leave there clean and get a little better trip than we did last time (when third in Arkansas Derby). I think it’s a very level playing field,” McPeek said. “I think we could stalk right behind (Muth) or be off of him. We will leave that up to Brian. He knows the horse really well. We are excited to be part of another historic race.”

Brian Hernandez Jr., who provided Mystik Dan with a well-judged, ground-saving ride in the Kentucky Derby, has the return call Saturday.

Albaugh Family Stables LLC’s Catching Freedom, who captured the Louisiana Derby (G2) prior to his late-rallying fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, drew Post 3 Monday. The Brad Cox-trained son of Constitution will be ridden back by Flavien Prat.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has saddled six Preakness winners, will be represented in the field by BC Stables LLC and Henry Schmueckle’s Just Steel, the Arkansas Derby runner-up who finished 17th in the Derby, and MyRacehorse’s Seize the Grey, who captured the Pat Day Mile (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Just Steel, who drew Post 7 and Seize the Grey, who will break from Post 6, are both rated at 15-1 on the morning line.

Joel Rosario, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer, will ride Just Steel for the first time in the Preakness. Jaime Torres has the return mount aboard Seize the Grey.

William Lawrence, Walmac Farm and Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Tuscan Gold, who finished third behind Catching Freedom in the Louisiana Derby (G2) last time out, was rated at 8-1 on the morning line after drawing Post 8. Trainer Chad Brown, who saddled Cloud Computing (2017) and Early Voting (2022) for Preakness victories, has named Tyler Gaffalione for the return mount on the son of Medaglia d’Oro.

Michael Milam and LC Racing’s Uncle Heavy, who won the Withers (G3) prior to finishing off the board in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, drew Post 2. Average Joe Racing Stables LLC and Dan Wells’ Mugatu, who is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Blue Grass, drew Post 1. Uncle Heavy, who will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., and Mugatu, who will be ridden by Joe Bravo, are both rated at 20-1 on the morning line.