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Kentucky Derby Runner Happy Jack Joins Preakness Field; Epicenter Considered The Favorite

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Happy Jack, who finished 14th in last week's Kentucky Derby, has joined the Preakness Stakes field, the Maryland Jockey Club said.

After breaking his maiden in his first try at Santa Anita earlier this year, Happy Jack has gone 0-for-4 in graded stakes races, including the Derby. He finished a distant third in both the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

The 3-year-old colt is the son of Oxbow, who came to Pimlico Race Course in 2013 with two wins to his name and won the Preakness wire-to-wire at 15-1.

Both father and son have raced for Calumet Farm in Lexington, KY.

Trainer Doug O'Neill said Happy Jack is recovering well from the Derby and will probably ship to Baltimore on Tuesday.

"He is checking all the boxes of a horse that exited his recent race in good shape," he said. "We like the Preakness distance, and we like a shorter field than the 20 horses in the Derby."

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will get the mount, O'Neill said.

Happy Jack is at least the third Derby runner to continue on to the second leg of the Triple Crown, joining runner-up Epicenter and fourth-place finisher Simplification.

Owner Rick Dawson said Thursday that Rich Strike, the improbable 80-1 winner of the Run for the Roses, will skip the race to get additional race and target the Belmont Stakes.

Even before Dawson's announcement, Maryland Jockey Club oddsmaker Keith Feustle said he was considering Epicenter as the favorite in the Preakness.

"Once I heard Epicenter was a 'go,' there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to be the firm favorite for the Preakness," Feustle said. "Now, a lot hinges as far as the price on whether Zandon goes or doesn't go. I'm thinking in my mind right now that if Zandon doesn't go, Epicenter will be in the 7-5 range more than likely."

Zandon, who came in third in the Derby, hasn't been ruled out, according to trainer Chad Brown.

Here are some of the other entrants in the field: Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath, Brown trainee Early Voting, Derby Day allowance winner Creative Minister and Daniel Alonso's Skippylongstocking.

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