2024 Preakness Stakes: How to watch, what you need to know

Editor's note: Muth has been scratched from the Preakness.

The 149th running of the $2 million Preakness Stakes takes place Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. It is the 13th of 14 races scheduled at Pimlico that day.

Coverage of the early races will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET on CNBC and stream on Peacock, and Preakness coverage starts at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock. It will also be available at NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app.

Post time is 7:01 p.m. ET.

What is the Preakness?

The Preakness is a Grade I race for 3-year-old horses that was first run in 1873. It was named in honor of the horse Preakness, who won the Dinner Party Stakes at the opening of Pimlico in 1870.

The 1 3/16-mile race is the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, a series of races for 3-year-old colts and fillies run over five weeks. The Triple Crown begins with the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May and concludes with the Belmont Stakes in June. The Preakness has been run in its traditional spot between the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes since 1931, with 2020 as the only exception, when the races were run in the fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been 13 Triple Crown winners since 1919 and 23 horses have swept the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but failed to win the Belmont Stakes.

What happened last year?

National Treasure took an early lead and never gave it back, winning by a head over Blazing Sevens. Kentucky Derby winner Mage was 2¼ lengths back for third. National Treasure, trained by Bob Baffert, went on to finish sixth in the Belmont Stakes. He is still in training and most recently finished fourth in the Saudi Cup in February. Blazing Sevens, trained by Chad Brown, also remains in training and won an allowance race at Aqueduct in April. Mage was retired to stud last year.

What's the story this year?

The Triple Crown trail has been scratch-heavy over the past few years, and that streak continued Wednesday after morning-line favorite Muth was scratched from the Preakness because of a fever.

The Bob Baffert trainee was installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite ahead of Derby winner Mystik Dan, who is 8-2 on the morning line.

Muth would have followed a similar path to last year's winner, National Treasure. Both skipped the Kentucky Derby because of Baffert's ban from race tracks owned by Churchill Downs Inc. Baffert, who won the Triple Crown with American Pharoah and Justify, has not been allowed to run a horse in the Kentucky Derby since he won the race with Medina Spirit in 2021. Medina Spirit, who collapsed and died following a workout in California later that year, tested positive a banned substance called betamethasone.

Churchill Downs Inc. disqualified Medina Spirit and banned Baffert from running a horse at its race tracks for two years. That ban was recently extended through 2024, despite Baffert's attempts to fight it in court. Baffert was also banned from running at Belmont Park or any New York Racing Association tracks for a year, but that ban was reversed in court after the 2021 Belmont Stakes.

Baffert broke the record for most Preakness wins by a trainer with his eighth win last year and still has a chance to extend that streak with Muth's stablemate Imagination.

This could have been the first year since 2012 to have a horse other than the Derby winner go off as the favorite, but Mystik Dan could retain that streak with Muth out.

Who are the contenders and pretenders?

There will be eight horses running in the Preakness Stakes, and only three are continuing on from the Kentucky Derby (Mystik Dan, fourth-place finisher Catching Freedom and 17th-place finisher Just Steel).

Mugatu (20-1)

Mugatu is trained by Jeff Engler and will be ridden by Joe Bravo. Mugatu has only one lifetime win after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park in November. His only Grade I effort was a fifth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6.

He is one of the most experienced horses in the race, with one win from 12 starts.

Uncle Heavy (20-1)

Uncle Heavy is a Pennsylvania-bred colt trained by Robert Reid Jr. and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. He won the Grade III Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 3.

His last race was a fifth-place finish in the Grade II Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 6. According to the official race chart, Uncle Heavy broke slow and had to race three-wide on the first turn, five-wide on the second turn, bumped with another horse and finished fifth after racing seven-wide in the stretch.

Catching Freedom (6-1)

Catching Freedom is trained by Brad Cox and will be ridden by Flavien Prat. He won the Grade II Louisiana Derby on March 23 and closed to a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby down the stretch.

Catching Freedom rallied from 11th place to first in the Louisiana Derby, beating Honor Marie and Preakness opponent Tuscan Gold.

Mystik Dan (5-2)

Mystik Dan is trained by Ken McPeek and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. McPeek became the first trainer since 1952 to sweep both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks this year after winning the Oaks with Thorpedo Anna. McPeek won the 2020 Preakness with filly Swiss Skydiver.

McPeek was initially unsure of moving on to the Preakness with Mystik Dan because of the two-week turnaround. Mystik Dan did not handle a short rest well as a 2-year-old, breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs on Nov. 12 but then finishing fifth in an allowance race at the track two weeks later.

Mystik Dan has had at least a month between races since then, winning the Southwest Stakes on Feb. 3, finishing third in the Arkansas Derby on March 30 and then winning the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

Seize the Grey (15-1)

Seize the Grey is trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Jaime Torres. His 88-year-old trainer has won the Kentucky Derby four times, the Preakness six times and the Belmont Stakes four times. His most recent Preakness win came with Oxbow in 2013.

Seize the Grey won the Grade II Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard, which is his most significant win out of nine lifetime starts. He also finished third in the Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks on March 23 and seventh in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 6.

Just Steel (15-1)

Just Steel is the other Lukas trainee and will be ridden by Joel Rosario. Like Mugatu, he has more experience than most horses in the race, with 12 lifetime starts and five wins.

Just Steel finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby after fading a mile into the race.

He has hit the board in two graded stakes races, finishing second in the Arkansas Derby and second in the Grade III Southwest Stakes behind Mystik Dan.

Tuscan Gold (8-1)

Tuscan Gold is trained by Chad Brown and will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione. Gaffalione switches mounts after a controversial finish on Sierra Leone in the Kentucky Derby. Sierra Leone finished second in a photo finish after making contact with third-place finisher Forever Young, but neither jockey contested the finish after the conclusion of the race. Gaffalione was later fined $2,500 by stewards for his ride.

He is the least experienced horse in the race, with one win from three lifetime starts. He has raced only once as a 3-year-old, finishing third in the Louisiana Derby on March 23 behind Catching Freedom and Honor Marie.

Imagination (6-1)

Imagination is the second of two entrants trained by Baffert and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.

Imagination has not raced since a second-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby on April 6. He won the Grade II San Felipe Stakes against three other horses at Santa Anita Park on March 3.

Weather forecast

There is a 60% chance of rain Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

The last time the Preakness was run on a sloppy track was 2017, when Justify won the second leg of the Triple Crown. American Pharoah (2015) and Exaggerator (2016) also won the Preakness on sloppy tracks.