This year’s Arkansas Derby winner was the Kentucky Derby morning line favorite. Now, the Arkansas Derby runner-up is the morning line favorite for the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
Improbable is the early 5-2 choice for the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) Saturday at Pimlico, a 1 3/16-mile event that has drawn three other Oaklawn-raced horses.
Improbable is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has a record-tying seven Preakness victories. Baffert won the race in 1997 (Silver Charm), 1998 (Real Quiet), 2001 (Point Given), 2002 (War Emblem), 2010 (Lookin At Lucky), 2015 (American Pharoah) and 2018 (Justify).
Lookin At Lucky opened his 3-year-old campaign by winning the $300,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), Oaklawn’s final major prep for the Arkansas Derby. American Pharoah won the Rebel and Arkansas Derby before sweeping the Triple Crown and being named 2015 Horse of the Year.
Improbable started twice at Oaklawn, finishing second in the first division of the $750,000 Rebel (G2) March 16 and second to Omaha Beach in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 13. Omaha Beach, a one-length winner of the Arkansas Derby, was the 4-1 morning line favorite for the Kentucky Derby before being scratched because of a minor throat problem.
Improbable is scheduled to break from post 4 under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who won the second division of the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby aboard Omaha Beach. Improbable finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby.
Other Oaklawn-raced horses entered in the Preakness are Laughing Fox (20-1 on the morning line), Warrior’s Charge (12-1) and Market King (30-1).
Laughing Fox ran five times at Oaklawn, breaking his maiden opening day (Jan. 25) before winning a first-level allowance race Feb. 18, finishing seventh in the second division of the Rebel and fourth in the Arkansas Derby. Laughing Fox earned an automatic berth into the Preakness with a victory in the inaugural $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational May 4.
Laughing Fox is campaigned by Hall of Famer and 10-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen and Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Oaklawn’s third-leading owners this year. Alex Lieblong, who has never had a starter in a Triple Crown race, is chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission.
Laughing Fox is scheduled to break from post 11 under six-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr.
Warrior’s Charge will be the first starter in a Triple Crown race for Brad Cox, Oaklawn’s sixth-leading trainer this year. Warrior’s Charge ran four times at Oaklawn, breaking his maiden by six lengths March 16 and winning a first-level allowance race by 6½ lengths April 12 in his last start.
Warrior’s Charge is scheduled to break from post 3 under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano.
Market King started four times at Oaklawn for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Market King broke his maiden Feb. 9 and finished third behind Omaha Beach and Improbable in the second division of the Rebel. Market King is scheduled to break from post 6 under 2000 Oaklawn riding champion Jon Court.
Lukas’ six Preakness victories include Tank’s Prospect in 1985 and Oxbow in 2013. Tank’s Prospect won the Arkansas Derby, while Oxbow finished second in the Rebel and fifth in the Arkansas Derby. Lukas was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1987 and 2011.
Probable post time for the Preakness, which goes as the 13th race, is 5:48 p.m.
Arkansas in Maryland
In addition to the Preakness, numerous other Oaklawn-raced horses are entered in stakes races Friday and Saturday at Pimlico.
On Friday, Estilo Femenino is entered in the $100,000 Skipat for fillies and mares at 6 furlongs; Tomlin, Bye Bye J and Best Kept Secret are entered in the $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 6 furlongs; Orra Moor is entered in the $100,000 Hilltop for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile on the turf; Heavy Roller and Tenfold are entered in the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) at 1¼ miles; Ulele and Brill are entered in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles; and Mylady Curlin is entered in the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff (G3) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
On Saturday, New York Central is entered in the $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) at 6 furlongs, and Cabot and Pyron are entered in the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for 3-year-olds at 6 furlongs.