Baffert: Fever Results in Muth’s Scratch From Preakness

Preakness Stakes (G1) morning-line favorite Muth  has been scratched from the May 18 second leg of the Triple Crown. 

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert told Pimlico Race Course publicity that the Good Magic   colt had a temperature of 103 degrees after arriving at Pimlico late May 14, and he had no choice but to scratch. The temperature range for a healthy Thoroughbred is usually between 99-101 degrees.

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

Muth and fellow Preakness entrant and stablemate Imagination  completed their final Preakness workouts May 10 at Santa Anita Park in Southern California. They traveled by plane and van to arrive at Pimlico in Baltimore, where they are being overseen by Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes. According to Baffert, they arrived Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m. ET after an 18-hour trip. The horses had taken a FedEx flight out of Los Angeles International Airport and arrived in Newark, N.J., before vanning to Pimlico.

“It’s a long trip, and I always worry about them getting sick,” Baffert said from Southern California. “I have been so lucky; it just caught up to me. It was bad luck, bad timing. It’s disappointing because we were really looking forward to it. The timing is horrible, but the horse will be fine.”

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Imagination did not go to the track on Wednesday following the cross-country travel. Barnes said the horse walked the shedrow under tack. He is scheduled to make his first on-track appearance at Pimlico the morning of May 16.

This marks the second time Zedan Racing Stables’ Muth has been scratched from a grade 1. Last summer, he was withdrawn from the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. He successfully returned to action in the fall.

This year, he is 2-for-2, having won the San Vicente Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1). Those efforts led him to start at 7-2 odds in the latest Preakness Future Wager.

He was ineligible to race in the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs, owing to that track’s ongoing ban of Baffert from competition there.

With Muth’s scratch, Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mystik Dan , a wide third to Muth in the Arkansas Derby last month, is now likely to start as the Preakness favorite. Imagination, Tuscan Gold , and Catching Freedom  are supporting favorites in the now eight-horse race.

“It’s a fragile game; it can happen to any of them,” Mystik Dan’s trainer, Kenny McPeek, commented upon hearing of Muth’s scratch while preparing to fly from Louisville, Ky., to Baltimore. 

“Oh, my goodness. I guess it puts added pressure on us, but he’s ready,” he added.


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