Medina Spirit
Medina Spirit held off Mandaloun (outside) to win the Kentucky Derby. Photo Coady Photography/Churchill Downs.

Brad Cox began the week with a bevy of Preakness contenders, but come May 15, none of his trainees will be in the starting gate for the Middle Jewel.

On Thursday Cox, who previously had said Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher Essential Quality, the beaten favorite, would skip the Preakness, indicated that neither Mandaloun nor Caddo River would contest the Preakness. The announcement came on a conference call with media that was organized by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Mandaloun was a game second in the Kentucky Derby in his most recent start. The Into Mischief colt has three wins from six career starts, including a score in the Grade 2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds in February.

Cox said that Mandaloun was doing well following his near-miss in the Derby. He jogged a mile-and-a-half Thursday morning.

“He’s moving extremely well, energy levels in good order,” the trainer said. “Everything that you want to see from a colt that, you know, performed at a high level in a mile-and-a-quarter race last Saturday.”

However, he said that he and owners Juddmonte Farms had decided to bypass the Preakness to “point for Grade Ones, you know, throughout the rest of the season in hopes of making him a Grade 1 winner at three.”

Caddo River has won two of six starts, including a score in Oaklawn Park’s Smarty Jones Stakes in January. He most recently was second in the April 10 Arkansas Derby.

But Cox said he didn’t feel as if the Hard Spun colt, a homebred for Shortleaf Stable, was ready to tackle the Preakness. It perhaps didn’t help that the winner of the Arkansas Derby, Super Stock, returned to be 16th in the Run for the Roses.

“We just haven’t done enough with him, or feel like we’ve done enough to pursue the Preakness,” Cox said.

Instead, he said Caddo River would be pointed to the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs later in May.

Cox has started one horse in the Preakness to date. Owendale ran third in the 2019 edition of the race. Cox did say he expected to send out several runners at Pimlico over Preakness weekend.