Preakness 2014: Post Kentucky Derby Odds Preview
California Chrome was the heavy favorite in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, and he ran like one to become the 140th horse to win the roses. With the win, the question now becomes: Can he win the Preakness and threaten the Triple Crown?
California Chrome won't get a free pass. There will be a few horses exiting the Derby who will take their crack at the Preakness as well as a few new shooters who skipped Churchill Downs with their eyes fixed on Baltimore.
The field will take a week or so to coalesce, but it's never too early to get a sense of how the second leg of the Triple Crown may look. Continue reading to see how Preakness Stakes may take shape.
Schedule and TV Information
Friday, May 16, 2014
3 p.m. ET: Preakness Classics, NBC Sports
4 p.m. ET: The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, NBC Sports and Live Extra
Saturday, May 17, 2014
1 p.m. ET: Preakness Saturday, NBC Sports and Live Extra
4:30 p.m. ET: Preakness Stakes, NBC and Live Extra
6:30 p.m. ET: Preakness Post-Race Show, NBC Sports and Live Extra
Likely Contenders and Odds
The Preakness Stakes, which is a half-furlong shorter than the Derby at 1 3/16th miles, maxes out at 14 horses (unlike the Derby's 20). Trainers who had Derby horses have a decision to make, but it's a challenge to do so in the 24 hours following the Derby.
One has committed to the Preakness: Derby winner California Chrome. But others are more lukewarm, like Commanding Curve, Ring Weekend and Ride On Curlin.
This list will grow to 12, 13 or 14 horses in the following week as trainers get a chance to evaluate their athletes. For now, here's a list of the horses that are most likely committing to the Preakness Stakes, with odds provided by the author:
- California Chrome, 3-2
- Social Inclusion, 4-1
- Bayern, 6-1
- Commanding Curve, 6-1
- Dynamic Impact: 8-1
- Ride On Curlin, 12-1
- Pablo Del Monte, 12-1
- Ring Weekend, 15-1
- Kid Cruz, 15-1
Pimlico Race Course Facts
Surface: Loam, dirt
Dimensions: One mile in circumference, 70 feet wide with a homestretch 1,152 feet long.
Nickname: Old Hilltop
Preakness Stakes Record: 1973, Secretariat in a time of 1:53.00.
Pimlico Race Course, located in Baltimore, is the second-oldest track in the country behind only Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Many famous racehorses from War Admiral, Seabiscuit, Secretariat and Rachel Alexandra raced over this surface.
Juxtaposing the great racing, the Preakness prides itself on its massive, debauchery-laden infield party. The biggest party in horse racing has its roots in an English pub. Strangely, this (unintentionally, perhaps) pays homage to the original settlers, per Preakness.com:
The name “Pimlico” was given to the area by English settlers in Colonial times, although the “Pemblicoe” spelling appeared on the original settlement charter in 1669. The colonists were from an area near London and brought with them memories of a famous landmark, Olde Ben Pimlico’s Tavern.
Pimlico sometimes gets a bum rap. The track isn't in a particularly nice neighborhood, and if it weren't for the Preakness, Pimlico would have little cache at all. But Alfred G. Vanderbilt said it best, per the race's official website: "Pimlico is more than a dirt track bound by four streets. It is an accepted American institution, devoted to the best interests of a great sport, graced by time, respected for its honorable past."
And unlike Belmont Park, Pimlico and the Preakness Stakes have the benefit of being alive every year with a Triple Crown at stake. The Derby winner hasn't lost yet, and the Preakness benefits as a result.
Will California Chrome bring the Preakness home?
He has the right running style to let the race unfold on his terms. That's how he won the Derby, and there's no reason to think he can't repeat that effort in the Preakness. And if so...
Can he win the Triple Crown?
The minute his nose hits the wire first (should this happen), the question will become whether in three weeks' time he can win the Belmont Stakes. He'll likely face a slew of horses that skipped the Derby and Preakness. CC will be on his fifth race in three weeks. He'll have the weight of 36 years on his back, should he win the Preakness.
Will the new shooters pose a threat?
The Preakness always garners a handful of new shooters: horses that skip the Derby in favor of the Preakness. These horses often fail to qualify for the Derby, so their connections set their sights at Pimlico. They have the added benefit of more rest and not running 10 furlongs just two weeks before in Kentucky.
How will the Derby horses perform?
Even though they come into the Preakness off two weeks' rest, Derby horses tend to run well in the Preakness. The only new shooters to win the Preakness since 2002 were Bernardini in 2006 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Beyond them, Derby horses have won all the runnings of the Preakness in the past 12 years.
Dark Horses to Watch
He won the Illinois Derby in a head bob over Midnight Hawk. It was a gritty effort for this horse. Departing, last year's wise-guy horse heading into the Preakness, won the Illinois Derby. While Departing didn't amount to much in the Preakness, Dynamic Impact will aim to reverse that trend.
The Tampa Bay Derby winner was scratched from the Kentucky Derby with a fever in the week leading up to the race. He won the Tampa Bay Derby by getting loose on the lead and then drawing clear of the field.
He beat Vinceremos that day, and Vinceremos then finished 14th in the Blue Grass Stakes and 17th in the Kentucky Derby. Those results don't exactly validate Ring Weekend's Tampa Bay Derby win. Still, he's trained by H. Graham Motion, who always demands respect.
According to Motion, Ring Weekend is "50-50" for the Preakness, per the official website.
Pablo Del Monte
Pablo Del Monte had a chance to run in the Kentucky Derby, but his trainer opted to skip since he'd have a lousy post position.
He finished third in the Blue Grass Stakes behind Dance With Fate and Medal Count, the sixth- and eighth-place finishers in the Kentucky Derby. Pablo Del Monte worked a blazing six furlongs in 1:10.80 at Keeneland and has his trainer, Wesley Ward, all kinds of happy.
“We’re so excited, we can’t even stand ourselves,” Ward told Pimlico's media department. “Yeah, I’m going. I’ve already booked the flight for my horse on the Wednesday before the Preakness.”
Ride On Curlin
Ride On Curlin got an unfavorable trip in the Kentucky Derby, but that was all right, according to his trainer, Billy Gowan.
"He looks good," Gowan said, per Preakness.com. "It was just bad racing luck, bad post position. But he's one tough horse. You've got to be proud of him. When he did get clear, he did come running, so that's all you can ask, really.''
As it stands, Ride On Curlin is a strong possibility for the Preakness. If his jockey Calvin Borel retains the mount, that will give Ride On Curlin a winner in the saddle. Borel won the Preakness in 2009 aboard Rachel Alexandra. Ride On Curlin's sire, Curlin, won the Preakness in 2007.
Well, this one goes without saying. He will be a heavy favorite in two weeks and will shoulder the weight of everyone's Triple Crown hopes.
His running style is well-suited to the Preakness, which tends to favor speedier horses. If he gets the same kind of trip at Pimlico that he did at Churchill Downs, watch out.
Art Sherman told Pimlico's media department, "Two weeks, I’ve never run him back that quick. I’m not that kind of guy. I thought even a month after the Santa Anita Derby to the Kentucky Derby was kind of quick, but he seems to respond and come back.”
That's the challenge.
This colt set the pace and nearly won the Wood Memorial. He's lightly raced and incredibly talented. He was a bubble horse to get to the Derby, but his trainer decided it best to save him for a potential run at the Black-Eyed Susans.
His owner Ron Sanchez told Blood-Horse prior to the Derby:
At this moment, I don't think we'll ship to Kentucky. It doesn't make sense to pay a $25,000 entry fee, plus all the other expenses, when you're 24th and also-eligible. He's going to train here and then we hope to get a prep for the Preakness. We'll make a final decision on Monday.
Just days before the Derby, Commanding Curve was on the Churchill backstretch as not even a consideration. With the scratch of Hoppertunity, Commanding Curve drew into the race. He only ran a commanding second place, charging down the track like he was dropped in at the quarter-pole.
If he comes out of the Derby in good order, trainer Dallas Stewart will send him to Baltimore, where he was runner-up in this race in 2008 with Macho Again.
Art Sherman, trainer to California Chrome, is apprehensive about running his Derby winner on two weeks' rest. His colt is far too good in this spot and should win if he can get the same trip he did in Kentucky.
First Place: California Chrome
Second Place: Social Inclusion
Third Place: Ride On Curlin
Fourth Place: Commanding Curve
Note: Preakness odds were created by the author.
Follow Brendan on Twitter @BrendanOMeara.