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Preakness Stakes News | Mystik Dan Decision Coming Saturday
Mystik Dan (Casey Laughter)

Preakness Stakes News | Mystik Dan Decision Coming Saturday

Trainer Kenny McPeek said the final decision on whether Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan runs in the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 18 at Pimlico Race Course should come Saturday after the colt trains at Churchill Downs and after he speaks with the owners.

Mystik Dan is owned by Lance Gasaway, 4G Racing, Daniel Hamby III and Valley View Farm.

Signs have been increasingly favorable that Mystik Dan will go in Baltimore’s $2 million Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Regardless, jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. said he has other stakes mounts Preakness Weekend that will have him riding at Pimlico Race Course.

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The Derby winner had a second day of galloping under former jockey Robby Albarado Friday morning. McPeek said he might have Mystik Dan pick up the pace through the stretch Saturday.

“Another steady day, another good day,” McPeek said. “Robby was happy. He ate up. We’ll discuss it in depth tomorrow (Saturday). We usually walk Sundays. When I say more, just a nice gallop, maybe let him stretch a little down the lane. Nothing complicated. Only what he wants to do.” 

Albarado said Mystik Dan felt better Friday than Thursday, when he got aboard the Goldencents colt for training for the first time since before the Arkansas Derby (G1), in which the Kentucky Derby winner finished third to likely Preakness favorite Muth.

“Every day is a progression for him,” Albarado said. “He’ll get back in his rhythm soon. He’s so easy to predict. I knew after the first day that the second day’s better, the third day. He felt really good. All his leads were on point. He enjoyed being out there.”

Albarado’s career spanning 5,222 victories include the 2007 Preakness with two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and in 2020 COVID-delayed Preakness with the McPeek-trained filly Swiss Skydiver. Beyond being classic victories, they both provided vindication of sorts for Albarado.

Curlin, in only his fourth career start, finished third behind Street Sense, ridden by his longtime pal Calvin Borel, and Hard Spun in the 2007 Derby. Curlin wore down Street Sense in the stretch to win by a head two weeks later in Baltimore. Three weeks later in New York, Kentucky Oaks  (G1) winner Rags to Riches and jockey John Velazquez edged Curlin by a head after a protracted stretch duel to become the first filly in 102 years to capture the Belmont Stakes (G1) .With Swiss Skydiver, Albarado was able to beat Velazquez and Kentucky Derby winner Authentic by a neck in similar fashion. 

“There’s not nearly as much pressure as you have going into the Derby,” Albarado said of the Preakness. “There’s so much pressure in the Derby on everyone, trainers, jockeys. The Preakness is laid-back. You’ve got a much-smaller field, obviously. I love the Preakness. I won it twice there. I won (the 2003 Pimlico Special) on Mineshaft there. I’ve won some nice races there, and I just enjoy being around it. Pimlico people, Baltimore people love the race there. I’m really excited about him going there.

“That was really Curlin’s coming-out party. (Trainer) Steve (Asmussen) obviously knew he had an extreme amount of potential and was destined for greatness,” he added. “But he had to put it all together. The Preakness was the race where people noticed he was a good horse. That was a good 3-year-old year. Street Sense. Hard Spun. Any Given Saturday. I don’t like saying her name, but Rags to Riches.

“(Swiss Skydiver’s) Preakness was special in a lot of ways. In 2007, Johnny Velazquez beat me on a filly in the Belmont. Thirteen years later, I was able to get back at him in the Preakness on a filly. Same margin of defeat. That felt kinda good.”

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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.