Orb is the heavy favorite to win the 2013 Preakness after winning the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, but he'll have stiff competition on Saturday at Pimlico.
One of the key factors heading into this race will be whether or not rain falls on the track. According to weather.com, there's a chance of rain and isolated thunderstorms throughout the weekend.
With light, speedy horses like Goldencents, Departed and Govenor Charlie in the field, a muddy track could doom their chances of knocking off the Derby champ.
Should the track remain dry, or at least firm, these front-running sprinters (among others) will have a terrific chance of stopping Orb's Triple Crown run dead in its tracks.
Post Positions (via Preakness.com) and Odds via BoDog
|1||Orb||Stuart Janney||ShugMcGaughey||Joel Rosario||7-5|
|2||Oxbow||Calumet Farm||D. Wayne Lukas||Gary Stevens||20-1|
|3||Will Take Charge||Willis D. Horton||D. Wayne Lukas||Mike Smith||12-1|
|4||Goldencents||W.C. Racing||Doug O’Neill||Kevin Krigger||7-1|
|5||Departing||Claiborne Farm||Albert M. Stall, Jr.||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||7-2|
|6||Govenor Charlie||Michael E.Pegram||Bob Baffert||Martin Garcia||20-1|
|7||Mylute||GoldMark Farm||Tom Amoss||Rosie Napravnik||12-1|
|8||Itsmyluckyday||Trilogy Stable||Eddie Plesa Jr.||John Velazquez||9-1|
|9||Vyjack||Pick Six Racing||Rudy Rodriguez||Garrett Gomez||15-1|
|10||Titletown Five||Hornug/Martin etal||D. Wayne Lukas||Julien Leparoux||30-1|
Departing: 7-2 Odds
Departing and Orb share history together, as both were raised in the same paddock at Claiborne Farm (h/t Jennie Rees of the courier-journal.com).
That's not the only thing these two horses have in common, either—they're both winners. Brian Zipse, the managing editor for horseracingnation.com, likes Departing, along with Mylute and Orb:
Brian Zipse @Zipseatthetrack
I like Departing and Mylute, but ... thinking Orb might be a single in the Preakness.2013-5-13 14:26:41
Departing has won three of his four starts this year and is coming into the Preakness with fresh legs after missing the Derby. The race Departing failed to win was the Louisiana Derby—a race in which he finished in third place behind Revolutionary and Mylute.
Fresh legs and a smaller field will help Departing give Orb a serious run for his money on Saturday.
Goldencents: 7-1 Odds
Speed, speed and more speed is what Goldencents brings to the track at Pimlico on Saturday.
Before the Kentucky Derby, James Scully of BrisNet.com wrote that Goldencents featured the "top last-race BRIS speed rating (106)" of any horse entered to race at Churchill Downs.
If the track stays dry, this horse will be tough to beat. Should rain fall and muddy the track, you can scratch Goldencents as a contender.
This horse proved to be the opposite of a mudder at the Derby, finishing in 17th place after being touted as one of the top horses in the field prior to the race.
Leandro Mora, an assistant trainer to Doug O'Neill, spoke with reporters aboutGoldencents' unexpected finish at the Derby, via horseracingnation.com:
He came back A-OK. With all the rain and mud, let’s just say the track was not on our side. (Goldencents) never had to face conditions like that in California. I thought (jockey) Kevin (Krigger) did a great job protecting him...he saw it was hopeless, he eased him up the last part of the race. The track condition made a big difference.
The condition of the track this weekend will make a big difference, too, so keep your eyes peeled for updates heading into Saturday's action.
Itsmyluckyday: 9-1 Odds
Like Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday struggled in the mud at the Derby and finished in 15th place.
That doesn't preclude this horse from running a fantastic race this Saturday, however, and judging by its recent breeze at Monmouth Park Itsmyluckyday is well on his way to amending that poor finish.
According to the Ashford Park Press, trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said Itsmyluckyday ran a "perfect" half-mile on Sunday at Monmouth in preparation for Saturday's race at Pimlico. The Preakness Stakes on Twitter also noted this horse's speed on Sunday:
Preakness Stakes @PreaknessStakes
Itsmyluckyday breezed half-mile in 47 1/5 and galloping out 5 furlongs in 59 3/5. He will ship to @PimlicoRC Tuesday. http://t.co/JvMsoUtdNB2013-5-12 19:47:28
Ridden by jockey Elvis Trujillo at the Derby, this horse will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez this weekend at the Preakness (h/t brisnet.com).
On a dry track, Itsmyluckyday will certainly be one of the horses to challenge Orb at Pimlico. Should the rain come and turn the track into a muddy mess, the horse will likely struggle to finish in the top 10.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78