The action begins on CNBC from 2-4 p.m. ET and continues on NBC from 4-7:30 p.m.
Well-respected racing analyst Britney Eurton is a prominent member of the network’s team. She grew up in horse racing as the daughter of distinguished West Coast trainer Peter Eurton.
Britney Eurton examined the prospects of some top contenders as part of a wide-ranging question-and-answer session conducted on behalf of America’s Best Racing:
EURTON: Well, it is an obvious disappointment because he garnered so many fans inside and outside of racing with one of the greatest upsets in sports history. That being said, I completely respect the connections’ decision to bypass the Preakness if they think two weeks’ time is too much of a rush for the Derby winner and they should head to the Belmont.
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PEDULLA: Will this still feel like the middle leg of the Triple Crown?
EURTON: Absolutely. It’s the Preakness. With or without the Kentucky Derby winner, it is still a prestigious race. I think everything surrounding the middle jewel is a lot of excitement. I think the pressure is a little bit off because you don’t have the 20 horses in the starting gate. The best way to describe the second jewel for me is to say it feels like a Preakness party on top of the fact that you’ve got an American classic. We have the Derby favorite. We have the [Longines Kentucky] Oaks winner. There are so many stories still.
PEDULLA: Can Secret Oath become the seventh filly to win the Preakness?
EURTON: Of course. Why can’t she? I think she’s the type of filly that’s getting better and better. The connections feel she is fit and ready to go and deserving of the opportunity. My only concern with Secret Oath is how far back she is going to be in terms of pace because I do feel Pimlico can sometimes favor speed. Early Voting and Epicenter seem to have a strong hold over the pace scenario. But is the talent there? Absolutely. She showed that when she finished third after a troubled trip in the Arkansas Derby.
PEDULLA: If Epicenter can repeat his Derby effort, would that be enough to win the Preakness?
EURTON: Yes, because he arguably ran one of the best races in the Kentucky Derby. He was much closer to that incredibly hot pace than Rich Strike was. He didn’t have the cleanest of trips. From post position three, he found himself farther off the pace than he ever was. The versatility that he’s shown in the last few races will definitely help him moving forward. But it’s his speed that will be very dangerous come Saturday.
PEDULLA: Armagnac is making a big jump in company from the allowance ranks. Does he belong?
EURTON: He’s a little in and out for me. He was very impressive in the allowance at Santa Anita. The quick turnaround is an obvious concern. He was well-beaten by horses like Taiba and Messier in the Santa Anita Derby.
PEDULLA: Can Simplification improve on his fourth-place Derby finish?
EURTON: I have to say that is the horse that surprised me the most in the Kentucky Derby. I am a big fan of the connections. Antonio Sano is a wonderful man and a great trainer. I didn’t love the distance for the horse. I was concerned about his antics. He can be a bit of a fiery one. I wasn’t sure how he would handle everything the Derby brought. I was surprised by what he did in the Kentucky Derby. If he can take another step forward, maybe it puts him in the conversation. But I’m still, for whatever reason, a little hesitant about him.
EURTON: Yes. He’s taking the same route to the Preakness that Cloud Computing did. I think it was all by design that they skipped the Kentucky Derby. Obviously, [owner] Seth Klarman is a Baltimore native. So, for him, it is something special to have a horse running in the second jewel. Early Voting has the speed you need on a track like this. He is a fresh horse, which might give him the edge over a horse like Epicenter. There is a lot to like about Early Voting.
PEDULLA: Why would the connections of Creative Minister supplement for $150,000?
EURTON: That’s a lot of money, isn’t it? Well, I have to believe they saw enough in him on the undercard on Kentucky Derby day to believe he deserves a chance. Kenny McPeek is one of the most sporting horsemen around. He will take a shot. More often than not, it’s worked out for him.
PEDULLA: Which horse do you view as a live longshot?
EURTON: My live longshot would be Creative Minister. I was very impressed with his last performance [winning an allowance race]. With the confidence of the connections throwing down that type of money, I think you have to read into it.
PEDULLA: I know you want to reserve the right to change your opinion until race day. As of now, who comprises your top four?
EURTON: I think it’s going to be a pretty chalky race, to be honest. I would probably put Early Voting on top over Epicenter over Creative Minister and Secret Oath.