The 2013 Preakness Stakes offers horse racing fans plenty of intrigue heading into the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb comes in as the highly touted favorite, but can he live up to the hype? Will Rick Pitino's Goldencents stumble once again? Can one of the long shots make an improbable run to victory?
There are plenty of questions to be answered. And the beautiful thing about horse racing is that anything can happen.
Although Orb is the favorite, there are more than enough quality contenders in the field to make things interesting. Here's the key for each of the field's favorites to come away victorious at Pimlico.
All odds courtesy of HorseRacingNation.com
Key to Victory: Overcoming the No. 1 Post Position
There's a reason Orb is coming in at even money to win the race. His come-from-behind win in Louisville was brilliant and there's no reason to think he doesn't have what it takes to come out on top here.
The closing speed that he showed off at Churchill Downs will serve him well at the The Preakness. The only problem is his post position. Starting right next to the rail is less than ideal.
According to David Grening of Daily Racing Form, only one horse has one from the rail since 1961.
David Grening @DRFGrening
Tabasco Cat (1994) only Preakness winner from the rail since 1961. #orb2013-5-15 22:12:08
If he's going to overcome the difficult position of starting on the inside, he'll either need to get off to a strong start to avoid being pinched off by the other horses trying to get to the inside or risk biding his time and make another late surge on a shorter track.
Even for a strong horse like Orb, it's a difficult situation to be in.
Key to Victory: Getting Off to a Strong Start
Mylute comes into the race as one of the few that had a strong showing in the Kentucky Derby, finishing fifth at Churchill Downs.
If he wants to build on that showing and do even better things at Pimlico, getting off to a good start will be crucial. In the Derby he was forced to bide his time near the back of the 19-horse field and couldn't quite get enough space to make a strong push at the end.
With the nine-horse field, it should be much easier to avoid being trapped by other horses. Throw in the fact that this will be a shorter track than the one they ran at Churchill Downs and getting off to a good start becomes even more pivotal.
Jockey Rosie Napravnik has the horse to put in a good showing, but she can't afford to fall behind early again.
Key to Victory: Utilize the No. 4 Post
Departing is a true wild card in this race.
Because he didn't run in the Derby, he's largely unknown among bettors. But that could actually be to his advantage. He's a well-rested gelding that has shown off top-flight speed in his few times on the track.
The key to the race will be taking advantage of his No. 4 post position. Unlike race favorite Orb, he has enough space to claim the inside track without being pinched down by other horses.
As long as he can outpace longshot Titletown Five and Goldencents down the initial stretch, he'll have a good shot at cutting off Orb on the first turn.
If he can turn things into a sprint down the stretch, he's shown that he has the speed to win.