Market King, third behind Omaha Beach and Game Winner in the second division of the Rebel (G2) two back, is the latest contender to try his luck in Saturday’s Preakness (G1) at Pimlico. That brings the total up to 12, the largest since a capacity field of 14 lined up in 2011.
Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who has won six runnings of the Triple Crown’s Middle Jewel, the Into Mischief colt broke his maiden at Oaklawn Park February 9 in his fifth try, but first around two turns. Market King turned back to a six-furlong sprint in a February 16 allowance, finishing third, before stretching out again for the Rebel. After fading to third in that stakes debut, he shipped to Keeneland for the Blue Grass (G2) and dropped to 11th.
But after Market King posted two strong five-furlong works at Churchill Downs last week, Lukas was persuaded to give him a shot in the Preakness. He clocked 1:00.20 on May 7, second best of 27, and wheeled back with a 1:00.40 move May 11.
“He’s training excellent,” said Lukas, who owns the record for most Preakness starters (43).
Winning with his first runner, Codex (1980), Lukas has also sent out Preakness heroes Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995), Charismatic (1999) and Oxbow (2013). He was tied with fellow Hall of Famer Bob Baffert until the 2018 Preakness, when Baffert’s Justify beat Lukas’s Bravazo for number seven. That could become a record number eight on Saturday if Improbable, the likely favorite, prevails for Baffert.
Market King was bred by the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings in Kentucky and sold to his current connections, Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack, for $550,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. His dam, the A.P. Indy mare Divine Presence, is in turn a daughter of European champion filly Divine Proportions.
More analysis of the field: