(CNN)It’s dubbed the “middle jewel”, the second-leg of the prestigious Triple Crown where dreams of a rare treble are made.
Except there will be no dreaming for two of US horse racing’s leading protagonists — Country House and Maximum Security — at Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.After one of the most controversial races in American racing history, Kentucky Derby winner Country House will not feature at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Trainer Bill Mott has ruled him out on medical grounds. The iconic blanket is thrown over Justify, the Preakness Stakes 2018 champion. READ: Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez suspended 15 daysDramatic Derby Read MoreThe dust still hasn’t settled on the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby — which even caused US President Donald Trump to weigh into the debate.It all began when Maximum Security, who led the Derby from wire to wire and crossed the finish line 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Country House, was disqualified for interference while turning for home.Officials decided that Maximum Security impacted the progress of War of Will, which in turn interfered with Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress. Second-placed Country House was subsequently awarded the victory instead. The owners of Maximum Security have since filed a federal lawsuit, seeking to overturn the disqualification, but the horse remains unable to compete at this weekend’s showpiece. READ: Kentucky Derby: Mint julep for $2,500, anyone?JUST WATCHED2019 Kentucky Derby ends in historic disqualificationReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
2019 Kentucky Derby ends in historic disqualification 01:26Weather vanes and daisy blanketsDespite the absence of Country House and Maximum Security, there is still a strong field scheduled to compete in the 144th edition of the race. Whoever wins will be etched into an illustrious history which dates back to the very first running of the race at Pimlico in 1873. Such an established history comes with its own set of unique traditions, including the iconic blanket of yellow daisies which is draped over the winner at the finish line. The yellow and black flowers, dubbed “Black-Eyed Susans”, represent the colors of Maryland and the State is also honored with the traditional singing of “Maryland, My Maryland”. Whoever is crowned champion on Saturday will also receive a special honor as they return to the grandstand, with the winning jockey’s colors being painted on the track’s iconic weather vane. An artist paints the winning colors on the weather vane at Pimlico Race Track after the Preakness Stakes. READ: Kentucky Derby controversy swirls as President Trump weighs in and owner plans appealRecording the second highest average attendance in American horse racing — behind only the Kentucky Derby — the event is a chance for spectators to stand out. Much like the Derby, fans dress to impress and celebrities flock to catch a piece of the action. Such an illustrious event also needs a fitting trophy and the Preakness doesn’t disappoint in that department either. In fact, the trophy is so precious, the winner is only given a smaller replica whilst the original is kept under guard. Photos: Winx's best moments Wonder horse Winx has become a national treasure in Australia and is currently the world’s top-ranked turf horse. Here is a look back at her glittering career to date. Hide Caption 1 of 7 Photos: Winx's best moments Winx made her competitive debut in 2014, winning her first two races of the season. Hide Caption 2 of 7 Photos: Winx's best moments The wonder-horse showed her true potential in 2015 with a win in one of Australia’s most prestigious races, the Cox Plate. Ridden by Hugh Bowman, Winx raised eyebrows by beating an impressive field.Hide Caption 3 of 7 Photos: Winx's best moments Winx secured back-to-back Cox Plate victories in 2016. She also claimed successive Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year awards. Hide Caption 4 of 7 Photos: Winx's best moments Bowman secured a third successive Cox Plate win on Winx in 2017. The win helped retain her standing as the world’s top-ranked turf horse.Hide Caption 5 of 7 Photos: Winx's best moments Winx has extended her unbeaten run to 28 races and once again retained her top spot in the world rankings. The horse has not lost since April 2015. Hide Caption 6 of 7 Photos: Winx's best moments Jockey Hugh Bowman celebrates after guiding Winx to her record fourth Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in Melbourne, her 29th straight victory of a remarkable career.Hide Caption 7 of 7Record books The 1,900-metre flat race has crowned many a champion in the past but none more historic than wonder horse Secretariat. “Big Red” still holds the track record today with a time of 1 minute, 53 seconds which he set in 1973. Meanwhile, Bob Baffert is the race’s joint most successful trainer, securing his seventh Preakness Stakes when Justify crossed the line last year on his way to the Triple Crown. He is now level with Robert Wyndham Walden, who had his last success in 1888. In the of absence Country House and Maximum Security, Baffert has a strong chance of claiming a record eighth Preakness victory. He trains Improbable, who is currently the bookmakers’ favorite for this year’s race ahead of War of Will — one of the horses impeded during the Derby. If the Kentucky Derby is anything to go by, this year’s Preakness Stakes should not be missed.