If the Preakness represents another chance for four colts who ran behind Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby, it also provides first-time Triple Crown exposure to seven new horses.
Even though only three "shooters" have won the Preakness in the past 20years (Rachel Alexandra last year, Bernardini in 2006 and Red Bullet in 2000), Caracortado heads a cast of hopeful newcomers at Pimlico Race Course.
"He's trained well and he's run against some of the best horses around," said Mike Machowsky, trainer for the California-bred gelding, who opened at 10-1 odds. "I wouldn't trade places with anybody right now."
Caracortado (Spanish for "scar face") won his first five races, but finished third and fourth the past two trips. The troubled fourth in the Santa Anita Derby cost him a Derby start.
So Machowsky makes his Triple Crown debut at Pimlico, where he won the 2004 Pimlico Special with Southern Image. He will keep his regular jockey, Paul Atkinson, in the saddle for his first Triple Crown race as well.
"Everybody needs to dream in this business," Machowsky said. "It keeps us all going. I'm not worried. He's ridden him perfect every time; the horse runs well for him."
Three Florida-breds (First Dude, Pleasant Prince, Aikenite), two Kentucky-breds (Schoolyard Dreams and Northern Giant) and one colt from New York (Yawanna Twist) will arrive fresh and feisty.
Trainer Dale Romans brought the Derby's third-place finisher, Paddy O'Prado, to Baltimore, as well as a big bay horse — First Dude — who he believes is on the verge.
"He trains like a really good horse," Romans said of First Dude. "We've been waiting for him to have that breakthrough race. If he's going to have it, I didn't want to waste it in a little stakes [race] or an allowance race. I want it to be in a big stakes like Saturday."
Schoolyard Dreams narrowly missed the Derby because of bad trips the past two times out, including a fourth-place finish at the Wood Memorial.
Ryan will put Eibar Coa on Pleasant Prince at Pimlico and hope for the best. "I've had a lot of luck with him," Ryan said. "Him and the owner [Eric Fein] had a falling out earlier in the year. He seems right, though, and suits my horses."
Pleasant Prince ran six times this season, nine in his career, with only one win. But owner Ken Ramsey thinks a second-place photo finish to Ice Box in the Florida Derby bodes well in Baltimore.
"The track is supposed to be fast on Saturday, so maybe it won't play to the advantage of Super Saver," Ramsey said. "On a fast track, if we run like we did down in Florida, I think we'll be right there."