Horse Racing
Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan heading to Preakness after all
Horse Racing

Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan heading to Preakness after all

Published May. 11, 2024 1:13 p.m. ET

Mystik Dan, the horse who won the Kentucky Derby by a nose in the race’s closest finish in more than a half-century, is heading to the Preakness next weekend after all, keeping alive the chance of another Triple Crown winner.

Trainer Kenny McPeek announced the decision Saturday after speaking with owners and weighing the pros and cons of racing his horse again on a short, two-week turnaround. He initially expressed concern about that timeframe after Mystik Dan ran poorly under the same circumstances in November.

But he liked enough of what he saw in training to take a chance.


"All systems go," McPeek said Saturday. "The horse is doing fantastic."

The possibility of Mystik Dan, who finished just ahead of Sierra Leone and Forever Young in the 1 1/4-mile race at Churchill Downs last weekend thanks to a perfect, rail-skimming ride by jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., not going to the Preakness next Saturday raised questions about the status of the prestigious race. Twice in the previous four years, the Derby winner did not run — a product of various circumstances.

But the lure of going to Baltimore was too much to pass up for McPeek, who won the pandemic-delayed 2020 Preakness with filly Swiss Skydiver, who beat Derby champion Authentic.

No one has won both the Derby and the Preakness since the last Triple Crown champion, Justify in 2018 for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Mystik Dan doing so would set up a first: a Triple Crown on the line at Saratoga Race Course, where the Belmont is being held for the next two years, while the race's longtime home on Long Island is being torn down and rebuilt as part of a massive, $455 million reconstruction project.

But Mystik Dan may not be the Preakness favorite. That distinction likely belongs to Muth, one of two horses being brought by Baffert, who was again not allowed to enter horses in the Derby because of a ban on him by Churchill Downs caused by Medina Spirit failing a drug test after finishing first in the race in 2021.

The only other horse from the Derby expected to run in the Preakness is 17th-place finisher Just Steel, trained by 88-year-old Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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