And then there were 12.
The Preakness field jumped from nine to a dozen yesterday when three more starters confirmed their intentions to take on Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.
Trainers for Icabad Crane, the winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico; Hey Byrn, winner of the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park; and Riley Tucker, who has been in the money six times in seven lifetime starts, have declared plans to bring their horses to Baltimore.
Todd Pletcher said he will not make a decision on undefeated Harlem Rocker until later this weekend. If Pletcher decides to bring his colt, it will give the Preakness, once expecting as few as eight horses, a baker's dozen.
While none of the new entries are Maryland-bred, each has a Maryland connection. Icabad Crane is based at the Fair Hill Training Center and is trained by Graham Motion. Riley Tucker will be ridden by jockey Edgar Prado, who dominated Maryland racing in the 1990s. And Hey Byrn's trainer, Eddie Plesa, said he is bringing his horse because its owner, Beatrice Oxenberg, has relatives in Baltimore.
"She has family up in Baltimore and there's no reason why we shouldn't come," Plesa said. "She said she wants to come and taste the crab cakes."
Even Harlem Rocker has a Maryland connection: He is owned by Frank Stronach, head of Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Pimlico and Laurel Park.
In other news, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, on the heels of The Jockey Club forming a committee to study equine health and safety, urged the industry to move "expeditiously" to adopt measures already suggested by the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
"It is clear the status quo is not an option and we need to bring a renewed sense of urgency to these initiatives," NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop said.
Horse ............Trainer .............Jockey .......................Last start
Big Brown Rick Dutrow Kent Desormeaux Kentucky Derby, 1st
Behindatthebar Todd Pletcher David Flores Lexington Stakes, 1st
Giant Moon Rick Schosberg Ramon Dominguez Wood Memorial, 4th
Hey Byrn Eddie Plesa TBA Holy Bull Stakes, 1st
Icabad Crane Graham Motion Jeremy Rose Tesio Stakes, 1st
Kentucky Bear Reade Baker Jamie Theriot Blue Grass Stakes, 3rd
Racecar Rhapsody Kenny McPeek Robby Albarado Lexington Stakes, 4th
Recapturetheglory Louie Roussel E.T. Baird Kentucky Derby, 5th
Riley Tucker Bill Mott Edgar Prado Lexington Sakes, 3rd
Stevil Nick Zito John Velazquez Blue Grass Stakes, 4th
Tres Borrachos Beau Greely Tyler Baze Arkansas Derby, 3rd
Yankee Bravo Paddy Gallagher Alex Solis Santa Anita Derby, 4th
Harlem Rocker Todd Pletcher Eibar Coa Withers Stakes, 1st
AT A GLANCE
What: 133rd Preakness Stakes, second leg of thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown
When: Next Saturday
Where: Pimlico Race Course
Distance: 1 3/16 miles
2007 winner: Curlin
Today: Preakness Parade, 11 a.m., Howard and Pratt streets. Tuesday: Pee Wee Preakness, 11 a.m., Federal Hill Park. Wednesday: Preakness Frog Hop, noon, War Memorial Plaza, City Hall. Thursday: Preakness Crab Derby, noon, Lexington Market; Preakness Balloon Festival, 3 p.m., Turf Valley Resort; Miller Lite Nites, 7:30 p.m., Power Plant. Friday: Ryan Shaw concert, 6 p.m., Harbor East.