After a wild first leg of the horse racing Triple Crown, the excitement surrounding the 2014 Kentucky Derby results has caused a frenzy as champion California Chrome and other top horses prepare for the Preakness Stakes.
Pimlico Race Course will be buzzing with the possibility of a Triple Crown champion, and bettors are looking for the contenders with the best chance to steal a victory on Saturday, May 17.
Here are the top horses to watch heading into the Preakness Stakes.
While Affirmed was the last horse to win the Triple Crown in 1978, there are many horse racing experts and fans who believe California Chrome can build off his Kentucky Derby victory and carry it into Pimlico Race Course.
Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form is convinced that California Chrome is the real deal:
I mean, California Chrome is pretty much destined to win the Preakness at 4-5 at this point, isn't he?— Marcus Hersh (@DRFHersh) May 5, 2014
The victory at Churchill Downs was the fifth in a row for California Chrome—he won the Santa Anita Derby, San Felipe Stakes, California Cup Derby and King Glorious Stakes leading into the Derby—and it's clear that momentum is squarely on his side.
With veteran trainer Art Sherman brimming with confidence after the 77-year-old won his first Kentucky Derby and jockey Victor Espinoza getting the most out of the horse, California Chrome is the favorite to win it all at the Preakness.
After a surprise second-place finish, one of the top contenders coming into the race at Pimlico will be Commanding Curve. The horse was stuck in traffic early in the race, but a series of evasive moves and a strong run late in the race resulted in a dream finish.
Commanding Curve's trainer, Dallas Stewart, told Marty McGee of Daily Racing Form about the horse's status for the second leg of the Triple Crown chase:
DStew on #KyDerby 2nd Commanding Curve: Came out of it great, 50-50 for Preakness, "really proud of him." 2nd straight bombs-away runner-up.— Marty McGee (@DRFMcGee) May 4, 2014
With a strong start, Commanding Curve will look to steal a win at the Preakness.
Add in the fact that Stewart is joined by talented jockey Shaun Bridgmohan in the quest for a huge victory, and Commanding Curve will build off his Derby success and his third-place finish at the Louisiana Derby in March.
One of the top contenders for the Preakness is a horse that raced strong in the Kentucky Derby trial but did not race in the main event. Horse racing fans can't overlook Bayern.
Before finishing second in the Derby trial on April 26, Bayern made an incredible run at the Arkansas Derby and managed a third-place finish. While Bayern doesn't have the long history of victories like many other challengers, he has legendary trainer Bob Baffert on his side.
The real key to Bayern's success will be the start of the Preakness Stakes. If the horse can get a favorable post draw and avoid early traffic, he has the speed and strength to race at the front of the pack.
*Stats via HorseRacingNation.com.