Preakness favorite Muth scratched, setting up Derby winner Mystik Dan

Preakness favorite Muth is out of the Saturday race after spiking a fever, trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday.

Muth won the Arkansas Derby and was favored on the morning line at 8-5 odds ahead of Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan (5-2) and Imagination (5-2), another Baffert-trained horse.

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

Muth was ineligible to run in the Kentucky Derby due to Churchill Downs banning Baffert’s horses.

Mystik Dan became the favorite after the Maryland Jockey Club confirmed Muth would not run in Baltimore. Muth won at Arkansas in a field that included Mystik Dan (third place).

“We don’t have to worry about him, so there’s eight horses now and we can kind of run our race and not worry about chasing the horse they call the favorite,” said Ray Bryner, assistant trainer of Mystik Dan, of Muth exiting the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Bryner added, “I’m not disappointed. I have to be honest. With him out of the race, it makes us pretty strong.”

Winning the Preakness would make Mystik Dan the 23rd horse to take the first two legs of the Triple Crown and set up a shot at the three-race sweep — the Belmont Stakes, held June 8 and traditionally scheduled three Saturdays after the Preakness.

The Preakness is 9.5 furlongs or 1 3/16 miles, which is 100 meters shorter than Churchill Downs and the 1 1/4-mile track at the Kentucky Derby.

At Belmont Park, horses run 12 furlongs or 1 1/2 miles to end the grueling three-race test.

Justify (2018) and American Pharoah (2015) are the last horses to win all three legs of the Triple Crown. Both were trained by Baffert. Only 13 horses all-time have won the Triple Crown.

Mystik Dan completed 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.34 in a photo finish at the Kentucky Derby, a win that paid $39.22. He nosed out runner-up Sierra Leone, who barely edged Forever Young.

–Field Level Media