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Preakness Stakes News | Mugatu Should “Save Some Ground”
Mugatu (Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Preakness Stakes News | Mugatu Should “Save Some Ground”

Average Joe Racing Stables LLC and Dan Wells’ Mugatu walked the Preakness Stakes Barn shedrow Wednesday morning following a delayed arrival to Pimlico Race Course, where the 3-year-old son of Blofeld is scheduled to face seven rivals in Saturday’s 149th Preakness Stakes (G1).

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“They got in a little late. They were scheduled to get in at midnight and they got here at 4 a.m. He was scheduled to jog this morning but since they got in so late, he walked,” said trainer Jeff Engler, whose Preakness hope shipped from Belterra Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Other than that, he ate up and was sleeping when we got here.”

Engler was pondering how Wednesday morning’s scratch of Muth from the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown would affect Mugatu, who closed from 10th to fifth in the April 6 Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland.

Muth, the front-running winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent start, came down with a fever after shipping from Southern California Tuesday, leaving stablemate Imagination to represent their Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

“I’m still trying to digest that. It takes a lot of speed out of the race. Imagination still has speed, but somebody’s got to go with him,” Engler said. “We’re a closer and Mystik Dan is, as well.”

Mugatu will break from the rail post position in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

“Everyone asks me, ‘What do you think of the 1 Hole?’ I don’t think it matters to us,” Engler said. “We’re a closer. We’re going to be back anyway. We’ll be able to save some ground.”

Joe Bravo, who was aboard for Mugatu’s maiden special weight score at Gulfstream Park in November on the only occasion that he has ridden the Engler trainee, has the Preakness mount.

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Horsemen will be offered $7.5 million in bonus opportunities as well as two qualifiers for races at Newmarket and Deauville come Preakness Day May 18 at legendary Pimlico Race Course.

In addition to their respective purses, a $5 million bonus awaits the owner or owners of the horse who wins the $2 million Preakness (G1), the $1 million California Crown (G1) Sept. 28 at Santa Anita, and the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park in 2025.

Meanwhile, a $2.5 million bonus awaits the owner or owners of the horse who wins Pimlico’s $500,000 Dinner Party (G3), the $750,000 California Crown John Henry Turf (G2), and $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).

In addition, the winner of the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint will receive an automatic entry and travel incentive to run in the July Cup Stakes (G1) at Newmarket on July 13, while the winner of the Gallorette Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares on the turf will receive an automatic entry and travel incentive to run in the Sumbe Prix Jean Romanet (G1) at Deauville Aug. 18.

The Maryland Jockey Club will also offer bonus money totaling $100,000 bonus to trainers who run a minimum of five horses in the stakes races during Preakness weekend, and another $50,000 bonus for trainers with the most points in non-stakes during the weekend.

The field for making Preakness Stakes picks, with riders and morning line odds from the rail out: