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Preakness 2024: Good Plays Now That Muth Is Scratched, And Mystik Dan’s Fight With Sierra Leone

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Muth’s midweek scratch from the 2024 Preakness field changed much, not just Mystik Dan’s chances. First-tier runners Sierra Leone and Imagination got the bigger boost.
The 149th running of the Preakness is living up to the race’s sterling reputation for changing pretty much everything about the Triple Crown season, except this year, the change is going in the reverse direction. Rather than, as would be in character for the Preakness, resolutely and routinely crushing any Triple Crown hopes, this week, an unexpected downturn in the medical status of former top favorite Muth leading to his dispiriting scratch on Wednesday has meant that today’s race offers Mystik Dan a significantly shinier, better chance at winning the Triple Crown’s deceptively tough second leg. At least.
It does not mean that he can, or will, take the prize. Handily beaten by his erstwhile nemesis, Muth, back in the day, Mystik Dan still has an arguably much larger job immediately in front of him to face down his far more current, actual Derby nemesis, Sierra Leone. Because: Sierra Leone did everything but steal the race from Mystik Dan in the last nanoseconds of that epic.
Another way to say this would be to say, In this Preakness, Mystik Dan is in a strangely vulnerable position for a Derby winner, because his closest Derby rival was literally in the process of beating him had the race been just a few yards longer.
But before we dive into this new iteration of a Preakness rivalry and what it means for both horses, here’s the refresher on the new shape of the field.
Post Position, Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Morning Line
1) Mugatu, Jeff Engler, Joe Bravo 20-1
2) Uncle Heavy, Robert E. Reid Jr., Irad Ortiz, Jr., 20-1
3) Catching Freedom, Brad H. Cox, Flavien Prat, 6-1
4) (SCRATCH) Muth, Bob Baffert, J.

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