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Preakness Stakes 2024 Preview: Contenders and Predictions

Positioned between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, it presents a critical challenge for contenders aiming for Triple Crown glory. The 2024 race is especially significant, as it promises an exceptional lineup of talent, setting the stage for memorable performances. 

This event showcases the speed and stamina of elite thoroughbreds and captivates audiences worldwide with its rich history and vibrant atmosphere. With the spotlight on the vibrant Pimlico Race Course, the 2024 Preakness Stakes is poised to add another thrilling chapter to the sport’s history.

Key Contenders for 2024

Besides showcasing equine skills, this event is also an occasion for 2024 Preakness betting enthusiasts, set to feature a lineup of horses that bring exceptional track performance and championship pedigree. 

So, if you are into betting, look at the following leading contenders and the masterminds behind their preparation.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has emerged victorious in his 2024 races, showcasing his prowess at the Risen Star Stakes and the Blue Grass Stakes, held in February and April, respectively. Starting from Post No. 2, Sierra Leone demonstrated his capability by outpacing fields that included several Kentucky Derby contenders, affirming that he’s well-prepared to face stiff competition. Notably, Sierra Leone is expected to go head-to-head with Catching Freedom throughout the race, as they are the standout horses commencing from the inside posts.

The aspirations for a Kentucky Derby victory now rest on Sierra Leone. Under the guidance of Chad Brown, a trainer celebrated for clinching two Preakness Stakes victories, and Tyler Gaffalione, who boasts a Preakness win himself, Sierra Leone’s team possesses a blend of experience and success at some of racing’s highest levels.

Catching Freedom

Catching Freedom made an impact on the racing circuit in 2024, securing a spot in the top three in all his races, including a commendable third place behind Sierra Leone at the Risen Star Stakes and an impressive win at the Louisiana Derby. This consistent performance sets high expectations for Catching Freedom at Churchill Downs, indicating an anticipated strong finish.

The rivalry with Sierra Leone is expected to ignite early in the race. Both horses, starting from advantageous inside positions, are predicted to either lead the pack or strategically position themselves close to the pace. This dynamic competition will likely be a highlight of the race.

Catching Freedom’s bid for victory is bolstered by a team with a proven track record at the Derby. Jockey Flavien Prat, who astonishingly guided longshot Country House to victory in 2019, brings invaluable experience. Trainer Brad Cox, who celebrated success with Mandaloun in 2021 following Medina Spirit’s disqualification, adds to the horse’s strong support system, enhancing Catching Freedom’s prospects at the Derby.

Forever Young

Forever Young has made a significant mark on the international racing scene, claiming victory in prestigious events like the UAE Derby and Saudi Derby. These wins have positioned the Japanese-bred horse as a formidable contender as he transitions to training in the United States with sights set on the Kentucky Derby.

Despite his impressive track record overseas, Forever Young faces a challenging historical precedent. It’s been 40 years since a foreign horse triumphed in the first leg of the Triple Crown, presenting an additional hurdle to overcome. Last year’s Derby saw Derma Sotogake, who had similar odds to Forever Young, finish in sixth place. Given this context, there’s a heightened expectation for Forever Young not only to match but exceed that performance, setting a new benchmark for success in this year’s race.

Fierceness

Fierceness enters the Derby fray with a wealth of experience from his team. With John Velazquez, a jockey who has clinched the Derby three times, and Todd Pletcher, a trainer with two Derby victories to his name, Fierceness is surrounded by champions.

Velazquez piloted Fierceness to impressive victories in two major events—the Florida Derby in March and the Breeders Cup Juvenile last November. These wins, especially considering the prestige of the competitions, position Fierceness as a potential favorite for many observers.

Fierceness’s collective expertise and experience in his corner are invaluable assets as the race approaches. However, despite the favorable odds and seasoned team, the outcome of the Derby is anything but preordained. The anticipation builds as we await to see if Fierceness can live up to expectations and translate his team’s storied history into a victory at Churchill Downs.

How to Watch the Preakness Stakes 2024

The Preakness Stakes will be broadcast on NBC and available for streaming on Peacock starting at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 18, 2024. This race is notably scheduled on Armed Forces Day, maintaining its position as the second jewel of the Triple Crown series between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. 

In addition to the main event, excitement builds up starting Friday, May 17, with the 100th running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. This race, featuring a field of three-year-old fillies over a 1+1⁄8 mile track, kicks off at 4:30 p.m. on Peacock, marking the beginning of a thrilling 14-race day.

The racing festivities continue into Saturday, with Peacock and CNBC covering the Preakness Stakes Prep Races from 1:30 p.m. ET. The climax of the weekend, the 149th Preakness Stakes, will be aired on NBC and Peacock at 4:30 p.m. ET, promising viewers a spectacle of top-tier horse racing action.

Takeaway

The Preakness Stakes 2024 promises to be a thrilling clash of equine athleticism and strategy, spotlighting the sport’s finest three-year-olds. Expectations are sky-high due to its rich history and position as a key Triple Crown race. Whether you’re drawn to the spectacle, the tradition, or the excitement of betting, there’s something for everyone. Following the Preakness Stakes offers a unique experience that intertwines the love of horse racing with the anticipation of witnessing potential history in the making.

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