Preakness Favorite Muth a Pre-Race Scratch

Less than a day after arriving at Pimlico Race Course, the favorite for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, Muth, was scratched due to a high fever. Trainer Bob Baffert made the decision after Muth’s temperature spiked to 103 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday night. A healthy horse’s temperature should be no higher than 101.5.

“We are sick about this. The horse had been doing really well,” Baffert said. “But we have to do what is right by the horse.”

Muth was the 8-5 favorite and was going to be running from the fourth post, two weeks after he was banned from the Kentucky Derby because of the suspension of Baffert. Had Muth run at Churchill Downs, he would have been among the favorites there, too.

Muth won the Arkansas Derby on March 30, beating future Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan in the process. Now, the rematch that everyone was looking forward to will have to wait.

“It takes a lot out of the equation,” said Ray Bryner, assistant trainer for Mystik Dan. “We don’t have to worry about [Muth], so there’s eight horses now and we can kind of run our race and not worry about chasing the horse they call the favorite.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of disappointed people on that end of it. I’m not disappointed, I have to be honest. With him out of the race, it makes us pretty strong.”

Latest Preakness Odds

1. Mugatu (20-1)

2. Uncle Heavy (20-1)

3. Catching Freedom (6-1)

4. Muth (Scratch)

5. Mystik Dan (5-2)

6. Seize the Grey (15-1)

7. Just Steel (15-1)

8. Tuscan Gold (8-1)

9. Imagination (6-1)

Betting on the race doesn’t begin until Friday, and the scratch of Muth should see Mystik Dan undergo the biggest change in odds by the time the horses run on Saturday. The Derby winner opened at 5-2, but the expectation is that he will be at or near even odds by the starting bell.

Since Muth was in the fourth position, No. 5 through No. 9 will all move over one starting gate. Being ever so slightly closer to the middle of the track will have an effect on Imagination, the other horse in the field trained by Baffert, and the horse on the outside post. He should also see a shortening of odds with a better horse removed from the field, and now has Baffert’s undivided attention between today and the race.

This will also put Mystik Dan and Catching Freedom next to one another, which should become the most interesting head-to-head battle of the race. Catching Freedom is one of the three Derby participants running at Pimlico, and two weeks ago at Churchill Downs he finished fourth, just two lengths off the lead.

The other Derby runner was Just Steel, who is trained by D. Wayne Lukas. Of the horses remaining in the race that also ran at the Arkansas Derby, Just Steel had the best showing.

Mystik Dan is trying to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since Justify in 2018, a horse which also went on to win the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown.

The Belmont Stakes is taking place at Saratoga Race Course these next two years while Belmont Park goes through a reconstruction.

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