Some years, Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind has to turn horses away from the Preakness. He and other members of the staff may look through the credentials of 20 horses, calculating their earnings -- the Preakness uses a fairly complicated three-tiered system -- to determine the 14-horse field.
Not this year.
As of Friday afternoon, connections for only seven horses had confirmed they planned to enter the race, and five others had been identified as strong possibilities.
Blind said Friday that he expects the field to settle at 12 horses.
“Twelve great competitors would be better than 14 so-so competitors,” he said.
A source said Friday that Mylute, the fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, will enter the Preakness if his trip to the track Saturday goes as planned. That would bring jockey Rosie Napravnik back to Maryland, where she got her start as a rider, for the state’s most important race.
Normandy Invasion, the fourth-place finisher in the Derby, is also still under consideration, as is 18th-place Vyjack.
Govenor Charlie and Street Spice, who skipped the Derby, are also still under consideration.
The Preakness draw is Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Blind begins trying to piece together a Preakness field in April, then spends Sunday morning after the Kentucky Derby meeting with trainers of the horses who did not finish first. This year, he immediately discovered that a fifth of the field -- all trained by Todd Pletcher -- had been ruled out of consideration for Preakness.
“I think part of it is the quality of the field, and Orb has shown to be a special horse,” he said of the light interest in the race. “But it’s also just where the horses stand in their development and training right now.”
Blind is also sorting through 499 other horses nominated for the 16 other stakes races scheduled for Friday and Saturday of next week.
Sagamore Farm, owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, plans to enter its filly Walkwithapurpose, in the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Preakness Eve.
Like many of Maryland’s stakes races, the Black-Eyed Susan has a larger purse this year, by $200,000, as a result of slots revenue set aside to help bolster purses.
“It has made us more competitive in a tremendously competitive area,” he said. “That has helped us draw better fields.”