In all of the buildup to the 2014 Kentucky Derby, all anyone could talk about was California Chrome. The Golden State-bred horse had all the momentum and looked the part of a superstar in this sport.
Despite some reservations that it was all hype, California Chrome more than lived up to the pre-race hype with a brilliant finish to win by nearly two lengths. That win sets up a potential Triple Crown run that we haven't seen since Affirmed in 1978.
Instead of getting bogged down in all the California Chrome talk, though, we wanted to spotlight the horses who have what it takes to rebound in a big way at the Preakness Stakes. The second leg of the Triple Crown will be run on May 17, so there's little time to waste.
Keep in mind that the Preakness field is far from set. California Chrome has been confirmed, but it's not out of the question that some or all of the horses discussed here choose not to run in two weeks.
|1||5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||2:03.66|
|2||17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||1 3/4|
|3||4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||3|
|4||20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens||5 3/4|
|5||6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||5 3/4|
|6||12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||6 1/4|
|7||19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||Billy Gowan||6 3/4|
|8||14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||7 1/2|
|9||13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||8|
|10||7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||8 1/4|
|11||8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||8 1/4|
|12||16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||9|
|13||18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||11 3/4|
|14||3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||15|
|15||15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||16 1/4|
|16||2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||22 1/2|
|17||9||Vinceremos||Joe Rococo Jr.||Todd Pletcher||28|
|18||10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||28 1/4|
|19||1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||38 1/4|
|11||Hoppertunity||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||SCR|
Via NBC broadcast.
Dance With Fate
A moderate sleeper in the Kentucky Derby, Dance With Fate did manage a solid sixth-place finish, but that had to be considered a major disappointment coming off a win at the Blue Grass Stakes and runner-up finish at the Real Derby in February.
If these horses race in the Preakness, which one is the biggest threat to California Chrome?
Trainer Peter Eurton has been cautious about pushing Dance With Fate too hard, even leaving the horse floating in purgatory for a long time before committing to run the Kentucky Derby.
The best thing Dance With Fate has going for him leading into the Preakness is blazing speed. He was able to springboard from near the back of a large pack at the Blue Grass Stakes to defeat Pablo Del Monte and Bobby's Kitten for the win.
Pacing is a problem for the thoroughbred, but the Preakness is one-half furlong shorter than the Kentucky Derby, so there's not as much emphasis on holding back before hitting the final stretch.
If Dance With Fate is near the top heading into the home stretch, he's got the greatest skill possible to win the Preakness Stakes and ruin California Chrome's Triple Crown chances.
Wildcat Red could be a long shot to run the Preakness Stakes after trainer Jose Garoffalo told Brisnet.com after the Kentucky Derby his horse suffered a "deep" cut on the outside of his right front leg.
It would be a shame if that's how Wildcat Red's Triple Crown season ends, because he was moving up the boards leading into the Derby.
Like Dance With Fate, Wildcat Red is more of a speed demon than a pure runner, but Amanda Duckworth of ESPN.com pointed out before the Derby that he's got a quality about him that seems to work.
By pedigree, Wildcat Red should be a stone-cold sprinter, but he just keeps running, and running well. In fact, in seven lifetime starts, he has won four times and finished second three times. Realistically, the Derby distance is probably going to be too much for him, but class carries a horse farther than a piece of paper ever has.
The shorter track at Pimlico Race Course is closer to the races that Wildcat Red ran when he won the Fountain of Youth and finished second at the Florida Derby. It's still going out on a limb to expect a run, but the underdog role can serve the horse well after gaining steam before the Kentucky Derby.
There's some positive news on the Tapiture front as far as the Preakness is concerned. Claire Novak of BloodHorse.com cited the horse's trainer, Steve Asmussen, as saying that it's not out of the realm of possibility Tapiture could run again in two weeks.
Steve Asmussen confirms no Preakness for Untapable, says Tapiture came out of #kyderby in ok shape, could go next to Matt Winn— Claire Novak (@BH_CNovak) May 4, 2014
That would certainly make the field more exciting. Before fading in the Kentucky Derby, Tapiture was earning rave reviews for his practice sessions at Churchill Downs. Ron Mitchell of BloodHorse.com (via ESPN.com) noted that the three-year-old was running five furlongs in just under 63 seconds.
Granted, running well in practice and disappointing in the actual race doesn't mean much. It does show that there's more in the tank than Tapiture showed on Saturday evening. One more shot at greatness could bring out the horse that won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths last November.
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