Forecasting the Preakness and Triple Crown Talk With NBC Analyst Britney Eurton

Events / Travel
Britney Eurton, Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, Triple Crown, NBC, Kentucky Derby, Mystik Dan
NBC on-air analyst Britney Eurton, left, talked about the Preakness Stakes, the importance of the middle jewel of the Triple Crown staying in Baltimore, the Triple Crown format, and Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan, right, in a wide-ranging interview. (Eclipse Sportswire)

NBC Sports will provide extensive coverage of the 149th Preakness Stakes Saturday from Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course. The broadcast begins on CNBC with the Preakness undercard from 1:30-4:30 p.m. ET before shifting to NBC from 4:30-7:30 p.m. ET. Post time for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, is set for 7:01 p.m. ET.

All six hours of Preakness Day coverage will be streamed on Peacock. In addition, Peacock will offer a 90-minute show Friday, beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET, that will feature the George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Britney Eurton will be a key member of NBC’s team of reporters from historic Pimlico. She grew up in the sport as the daughter of West Coast-based trainer Peter Eurton. She discussed the debate surrounding the Triple Crown format, the future of the Preakness, and the prospects for Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Mystik Dan as he attempts to take the next step toward the Triple Crown during a question-and-answer session conducted on behalf of America’s Best Racing. 

PEDULLA: With only three Derby starters returning for the Preakness, should that be a concern for those associated with the Triple Crown?

Preakness Stakes, Mystik Dan, Pimlico, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown
Mystik Dan gallops at Pimlico. (Eclipse Sportswire)

EURTON: I don’t think we should look at it that way. Part of the intrigue of the middle jewel is that you can have fresh faces coming in and trying to take down the Derby winner. I think we have a very competitive Preakness Stakes this year. I’m going to take the positive end of it. Sure, we only have three running back, but the Derby is a really tough race. It’s a hard-run race with 20 horses. So to have three coming back, including the Derby winner, is a good thing.

PEDULLA: There has been discussion that perhaps the Triple Crown format should be changed. Where do you stand on that?

EURTON: Being a traditionalist, I think the Triple Crown was put in the order it has been for some time for a reason, because it is challenging. But then I look at it from the other side and how racing is evolving and trainers are evolving their program as well. To stay relevant, horse racing needs to adjust with the time. It may not be easier to win the Triple Crown to spread it out say a month between each race because you are going to constantly have fresh horses pointing toward that race. Some might say it would be easier to spread it out. I actually think it might be more challenging, which means it could make it a lot more interesting. If it’s better for the horses and the horsemen to change the Triple Crown, why not create a new tradition?

PEDULLA: Maryland has acted to secure the future of the Preakness in that state. Is that an important move?

Preakness Stakes, Just Steel, Pimlico, D. Wayne Lukas, Seize the Grey
Just Steel exercises May 16 at Pimlico. (Eclipse Sportswire)

EURTON: I think the Preakness being in Maryland is an important move and any way in which that happens is something to celebrate. It is a mainstay for the state and the city. They have so much pride in the middle jewel, so to keep it here and renovate Pimlico I think is a wonderful thing not only for the sport but the state as well.

PEDULLA: What allows D. Wayne Lukas to continue to be a major player at age 88?

EURTON: It’s his love for the game, right? What pulls him to the barn are these incredible equine athletes. His true passion for the sport and these animals not only makes him the greatest horseman of all time but, at his age, still seeing wonderful success. What I really appreciate about the Coach and what he’s said lately is that he’s experienced the highest of the highs in racing and he wants now to provide that to his owners and his riders. His pure appetite for this game is so wonderful to watch.

PEDULLA: Which of Lukas’ two starters, Just Steel or Seize the Grey, looks to have the better shot?

EURTON: That’s a great question. I could probably throw out the last race for Just Steel. As we all know, the Kentucky Derby, you need a great trip and his went wrong from the beginning. This horse’s Arkansas Derby I thought was fantastic. He was in much better position all the way around the track but then you’ve got a horse like Seize the Grey, who can probably sit just behind the speed and make a good run. If you forced me to choose between the two, I think we could see a bounce back from Just Steel.

PEDULLA: Can Catching Freedom improve on his Derby?

EURTON: Absolutely. Brad Cox does not wheel horses back in two weeks. He very rarely does that. This is not typical for his training program. For me, I read that as he’s seeing something very positive for Catching Freedom coming out of that race. If Brad thinks he’s ready to put forth a great effort off of two weeks, I would not question it at all. To me, that says a lot.

Preakness Stakes, Imagination, Pimlico, Bob Baffert, Triple Crown
Imagination visits the Pimlico track May 16. (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

PEDULLA: How do you evaluate Imagination?

EURTON: I think Imagination has surprised me a little bit in terms of he wasn’t the flashy horse but he never puts forth a bad race. He’s never been worse than second.

PEDULLA: Can Mystik Dan take another step toward the Triple Crown?

EURTON: Well, you have to say yes, especially if it rains. I spoke with Robby Albarado, his exercise rider, and he said the feeling this horse is giving him is just as good, if not better, than it was coming into the Kentucky Derby. I think that is saying something for a horse that ran really hard.

PEDULLA: How about a live longshot?

EURTON: I think Tuscan Gold is very interesting. We know that Chad Brown knows how to win this race, especially with horses that didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby. This horse is lightly raced, but the numbers are definitely headed in the right direction.

PEDULLA: Who wins?

EURTON: I’m going to take a stab and put Mystik Dan on top.

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