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Preakness Stakes News | Will Imagination Be Pacesetter?
Imagination (Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Preakness Stakes News | Will Imagination Be Pacesetter?

With the untimely scratch of Muth from the 149th running of the $2 million Preakness Stakes (G1), it could be left up to his stablemate, Imagination, to be the pacesetter in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Or it might not.

“I have no idea,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said from Southern California. “If I did, I would not tell you. I do think he will be tough.”

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The son of Into Mischief, a $1.05 million purchase by SF Racing and partners, galloped for the first time at Pimlico Race Course Thursday morning with exercise rider Humberto Gomez on board. Imagination went 1 3/8 miles at 8:30 a.m.

“It rained (Wednesday night) and they had the track floated this morning,” assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said. “We thought it would be better to wait until they scratched it before bringing him out. He is a nice horse.”

Imagination, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori in the Preakness, has two wins and four seconds in six career starts. Three of his losses – including his latest race, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) – have come by a neck.

Muth and Imagination figured to give Baffert a solid chance to add to his record number of Preakness victories. He has eight, the latest coming a year ago when National Treasure won it.

“I was coming here hoping to run 1-2,” Barnes said. “Now he has to run first.”

Barnes said that Muth, who was declared out of the Preakness on Wednesday after spiking a temperature of 103, was doing better on Thursday.

“He is good,” said Barnes, who added that Muth is eating. “The temperature has come down and the bloodwork is OK. This is something that doesn’t go away overnight. It will take three or four days.”

Barnes said that Imagination will go to the track Friday morning around 7:30.

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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: