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Preakness Stakes News | Kentucky Derby Winner Mystik Dan “Not Committed”
Mystik Dan (Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Preakness Stakes News | Kentucky Derby Winner Mystik Dan “Not Committed”

Trainer Kenny McPeek said Sunday morning that the ultimate decision on running Mystik Dan in the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 18 at Pimlico Race Course depends on the newly crowned Kentucky Derby (G1) winner.

“We’re not committed to the Preakness. No, not yet,” McPeek said Sunday morning outside his Churchill Downs barn. “I ran him back once in two weeks and it completely backfired on me. We skipped the Rebel (because it was) back too quick as well. So we’ll just watch him over the next week. We’ll probably take it up to the last minute. But we’ll see. We’ll let him tell us. If he’s not in the feed tub, he won’t run. And he ran hard yesterday. Like I said, we’ll let him tell us.”

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McPeek won the COVID-delayed Preakness in 2020 with the filly Swiss Skydiver. He said he’ll talk to co-owners Lance Gasaway and Sharilyn Gasaway (who is married to Lance’s first cousin Brent Gasaway) “and the team here. If I don’t think he’s right and ready, we’ll just wait for the Belmont.”

In his second start on Nov. 12, Mystik Dan won by 7 ¾ lengths at Churchill Downs. McPeek then ran him 13 days later in an entry-level allowance race, with the colt finishing fifth by a total of eight lengths.

Asked if Mystik Dan was different now, McPeek said, “Horses sometimes pop back quickly and sometimes they don’t. We’ll just have to take that as it comes. It’s too early to tell.”

Mystik Dan finished third in the March 30 Arkansas Derby (G1) after taking Oaklawn Park’s Feb. 3 Southwest Stakes (G3) by eight lengths in the slop.

McPeek said Mystik Dan likely would return to the track on Wednesday at Churchill Downs, but he could soon thereafter relocate to Saratoga, where the trainer will have a division.

“I think we’re going to go to Saratoga tomorrow (Monday),” he said, referring to his wife, “Sherri and I have a home up there. I’m going to get the stable set up. Better than average chance we’ll send him and some others straight to Saratoga.”

McPeek had said Saturday morning Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Thorpedo Anna could be a long-shot possibility to run in the Preakness, but he took that off the table Sunday. The filly would have to be supplemented into the Preakness for $200,000 because she’s not nominated to the Triple Crown.

Brian Hernandez Jr. has ridden in the Preakness Stakes four times, most recently finishing third in 2022 on the McPeek-trained Creative Minister.

“It’s definitely going to be a different situation,” Hernandez, who earned his first Triple Crown race victory in the Derby, said of riding Mystik Dan in the Preakness, should it be his next race. “We have two weeks going into Baltimore with the Derby winner. So I guess we’ll have a little more press on us than we normally do. We’ve ridden the Preakness four or five times, but have never gone in with the Derby winner, of course. Going in with Mystik Dan this year, it will be a little different, but we’re excited for it.”

Lance Gasaway said that if Mystik Dan comes out of the race well, “we’d love to” go to the Preakness.

“It’s all about the horse,” he said. “We’ll see how the horse comes out of the race. Let’s give him two or three days. If he comes out of it good, we’ll look at it. If not, we’re worried about the horse more than anything.

“No. 1 — if we go into the race, we want to win. I’m pretty sure (Bob) Baffert is going to have (Arkansas Derby (G1) winner) Muth in there,” he added. “You take those horses in there at full speed, who have been off a month and a half and we’re coming in off two weeks, that’s a big ask of this horse. Let’s see how he comes out of the race.”