Epicenter installed as 6-5 Preakness favorite

Saturday’s 147 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course following Monday’s post-position draw for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

The Steve Asmussen-trained colt, who finished second in the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs, drew Post #8 in a field of nine 3-year-olds during the official draw at nearby Citron Restaurant.

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Asmussen, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, has saddled a pair of Preakness Stakes winners during his Hall of Fame career: Curlin (2007) and filly Rachel Alexandra (2009).

Epicenter made a powerful move in the Kentucky Derby to take the lead on the turn into the homestretch but was unable to hold off Rich Strike, the 80-1 upsetter who is bypassing the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

“I thought it was ideal. It’s a nine-horse field, plenty of run-up to the first turn,” Asmussen said of the draw. “Several fresh horses and us coming back in two weeks, I think it’s absolutely ideal. You could say we’re half as nervous as the draw for the Derby, when you go from 20 runners to nine. I think that makes it that much more beneficial to everybody as far as post-position draw goes.”

Joel Rosario has the return mount aboard the son of Not This Time, who entered the Derby off impressive victories in the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.

Klaravich Stables Inc.’s Early Voting was rated second at 7-2 in the morning line after drawing Post #5. The Chad Brown trainee most recently finished second in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, losing by a neck to Mo Donegal after setting the pace.

The son of Gun Runner, who will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, entered the Wood off a debut maiden score and a 4 ½-length triumph in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct in his first two career starts.

Briland Farm’s Secret Oath, who captured the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs by two lengths, was rated third at 9-2 in the morning line after drawing Post #4 for her attempt to become the seventh filly to capture the Preakness.

Secret Oath arrived at Pimlico shortly before 3:30 p.m. Monday following a van ride from Churchill Downs, accompanied by her Hall of Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, who reported that the Oaks winner handled the trip well.

 The daughter of Arrogate finished third against males in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn prior to impressing in the Oaks on Derby eve.

Luis Saez, who was aboard for the Oaks, has been awarded the return call by Lukas, a six-time winner of the Preakness.

Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric’s Simplification, who closed from 15th to fourth with a very wide rally in the Kentucky Derby, was set at 6-1 after drawing Post #1.

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will seek his first Preakness success aboard the Antonio Sano-trained son of Not This Time, who captured the Fountain of Youth (G2) and finished third in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.

Fern Circle Stables and Back Racing LLC’s Creative Minister [Post #2; 10-1; Brian Hernandez Jr.], SF Racing and partners’ Armagnac [Post #7; 12-1; Irad Ortiz Jr.], Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking [Post #9; 20-1; Junior Alvarado], Calumet Farm’s Happy Jack [Post #6; 30-1; Tyler Gaffalione], and Villa Rosa Farm and Harlo Stable’s Fenwick [Post #3; 50-1; Florent Geroux] are also entered in the Preakness.

PREAKNESS ENTRIES

1SimplificationTami Bobo & Tristan De MericAntonio Sano6/1
2Creative MinisterFern Circle Stables and Back Racing LLCKenny McPeek10-1
3FenwickVilla Rosa Farm and Harlo StableJohn Oxley50-1
4Secret OathBriland FarmD. Wayne Lukas9-2
5Early VotingKlaravich StablesChad Brown7-2
6Happy JackCalumet FarmDoug O’Neill30-1
7ArmagnacSF Racing et. al.Tim Yakteen12-1
8EpicenterWinchell ThoroughbredsSteve Asmussen6-5
9SkippylongstockingDaniel AlonsoSaffie Joseph20-1
  • Armagnac at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Armagnac at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Creative Minister at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Creative Minister at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Early Voting at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Early Voting at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Early Voting at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Epicenter at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Epicenter at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Fenwick at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Fenwick at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Fenwick at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Secret Oath at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Skippylongstocking at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Skippylongstocking at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Creative Minister at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.
  • Secret Oath - Gallops at Oaklawn - 032922 - OP - 001 - Copy. Photo Coady Photography
  • Simplification the Mucho Macho Man credit Ryan Thompson
  • SECRET OATH - The Honeybee G3 - 35th Running - 02-26-22 - R05 - OP - Finish 02. Photo Coady Photography.
  • SECRET OATH - The Honeybee G3 - 35th Running - 02-26-22 - R05 - OP - Inside Finish 02. Photo Coady Photography.
  • Epicenter won the Risen Star Stakes. Photo Hodges Photography.
  • Epicenter won the Risen Star Stakes. Photo Hodges Photography.

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