— Sports

Mandaloun, Essential Quality won’t run in Preakness Stakes

Trainer Brad Cox said Thursday that the Kentucky Derby’s favorite Essential Quality and runner-up Mandaloun would not run against Medina Spirit in the Preakness.

Cox said he’d skip the second jewel of the Triple Crown with those two horses and Caddo River, who was scratched from the Derby for spiking a fever. Mandaloun finished a half-length back of Medina Spirit as a 27-1 long shot, while Essential Quality was fourth after going off as the 3-1 Derby favorite.

Mandaloun jogged Thursday, and Cox said the horse was moving exceptionally well with good energy, adding Mandaloun showed “everything you want to see from a colt that performed at a high level at a mile and a quarter race. But the decision was made to skip the May 15 Preakness in Baltimore to keep Mandaloun ready for more races as a 3-year-old and beyond.

Preakness Stakes

Mandaloun “ran extremely well and hard and just felt like we would like to give him some time,” Cox said on a National Thoroughbred Racing Association conference call. “We just feel like it in the horse’s best interest to run him back in two weeks is not right for him.”

The Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course this August is the new target for Essential Quality, who fell short of being the first gray horse to win the Derby since Giacomo in 2005. Cox said Caddo River, who has early speed and was expected to challenge Medina Spirit out of the gate in the Preakness, will be pointed to the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 29.

Without Mandaloun or Essential Quality in the Preakness, Medina Spirit’s biggest challenger could be Cowho two-time Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert also trains Bob Baffert. Owner Gary West opted to pass on the Derby with Concert Tour after a disappointing third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby, and Baffert expects the horse to be ready for the Preakness.

“I kept working him like I was going to the Preakness,” Baffert said. “We thought, ‘Is he good enough? Is the training well enough to run in the Preakness?’ And I said yes, and so (West) said we’d run it and (we’ll) see if he’s as good as we think he is or maybe he’s not as good as we believe he is or whatever, but at least we’ll give him a chance. Medina Spirit surprised Baffert by going wire to wire with jockey John Velazquez aboard to win the Derby at 12-1. And while Baffert said he couldn’t compare Medina Spirit to Triple Crown champions American Pharoah from 2015 and Justify from 2018, the colt who gave the Hall of Fame trainer his record seventh Derby win is on pace to try to make it a record eight in the Preakness.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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