Let’s be honest, the best possible outcome for the sport of horse racing at the Kentucky Derby was exactly what we saw. Thanks to California Chrome’s impressive victory, the interest and buzz surrounding the upcoming Preakness will be as high as it has been in years.
After all, it’s all about the Triple Crown.
The 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course takes place May 17, and the odds are already out regarding California Chrome’s chances at a potential Triple Crown. The formidable horse has won five straight races and looked the part of a contender who can challenge at each of the sport’s three biggest events.
However, his trainer, Art Sherman, seems skeptical of all the hoopla, via Sporting News:
One reason for the skepticism is the quick turnaround between races, as was evidenced by Sherman’s quote, via WBALTV 11: “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."
Don’t tell that to Las Vegas.
According to Odds Shark, the following betting lines are already available:
Will California Chrome win the 2014 Triple Crown?
Will California Chrome win the 2014 Preakness?
This tidbit, courtesy of Odds Shark, was also interesting to note: “On Saturday, a wager on any horse to win the Triple Crown was a 9-1 payout. On Sunday, that same wager was down to a 2-1 payout at one racebook.”
While the Triple Crown narrative is obviously exciting to bet on, there is another reason California Chrome is seen as such a realistic possibility to do what hasn’t been done in horse racing since 1978—he is simply the best horse.
Look for more of the same at the Preakness.
California Chrome will position himself in the early going for the same late charge we saw at Churchill Downs. His closing speed was on full display at the Kentucky Derby, and it’s certainly not going to go anywhere between now and the Preakness.
As long as he is within striking distance heading into the final stretch, California Chrome will once again turn on the jets and take home the second leg of the Triple Crown.
However, he won’t go unchallenged. Here is a look at a couple of the other horses to watch, via the Preakness’ official website. The field is sure to expand as the race approaches.
Pablo Del Monte
Horse racing fans likely recognize Pablo Del Monte’s name as the horse that filled the vacant spot left behind by Hoppertunity in the Kentucky Derby field, but Pablo Del Monte was also scratched before the race.
That means he will be fresh and well rested by May 17.
Pablo Del Monte has wins over Keeneland’s Polytrack under his belt, and he finished in fifth at the Grade 3 Generous over the Hollywood Park turf. He also finished in fourth in the Gulfstream Park Derby, third in the Grade 3 Hutcheson and third at the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland.
Interestingly enough, Pablo Del Monte set the pace for the majority of the Blue Grass at Keeneland race, but he petered out in the end. Perhaps he will close stronger at the Preakness with the extra rest he has because he didn’t run at the Derby.
Ride On Curlin
Ride On Curlin doesn’t have a stakes win on his resume, but he has impressed nonetheless.
He finished in seventh place from post No. 18 in the Derby, third in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park, third in the Street Sense Stakes, third at the Southwest and Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park, second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and fourth in the Grade 2 Iroquois at Churchill Downs.
While placing in a number of graded stakes is certainly noteworthy, the most enticing part of Ride On Curlin’s chances at the Preakness is his pedigree.
He is the son of 2007 Preakness winner and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.
The lineage is in place, now all Ride On Curlin has to do is knock off the dominant California Chrome.
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