The second leg of the vaunted Triple Crown occurs Saturday at the 2014 Preakness, but before Kentucky Derby Winner California Chrome can chase history, all 14 participants have to be drawn into post positions.
This process is similar to the preparation for the Derby in many regards, with utmost importance placed on the post positions themselves.
With a mixture of familiar faces from the Derby and newcomers, the Preakness has the look of a race once again set to live up to the wild hype. Not all entrants are known at this juncture, but some heavyweights have already made themselves known.
Here's a look at the draw schedule and those in play.
What: 2014 Preakness Post Positions Draw
When: Wednesday, May 14 2014 at 6 pm ET
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland
|California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Confirmed|
|Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Confirmed|
|Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||Confirmed|
|Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||Confirmed|
|Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||Confirmed|
|Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Confirmed|
|Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||Confirmed|
|General a Rod||Javier Castellano||Confirmed|
As fun as it would be to see an underdog storm to the win on Saturday, the day will surely belong to California Chrome.
Make that five races in a row for California Chrome, a horse that had won four races prior to the Derby by more than 24 lengths combined. Had he not pulled up near the end with victory already assured, the Derby would have also been a major blowout.
Questions have been raised about Chrome's time, but as Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated points out, there may be multiple explanations for the finish:
California Chrome's slow Derby may be indicator of weak class of 3yos or small chance at Triple Crown. But he still won the Derby.— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) May 7, 2014
If the issue is that the rest of the field is slower than normal this year, things might get ugly in Baltimore.
Unless Rosie Napravnik has something to say about it.
Napravnik is set to form a deadly combination at the Preakness with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who confirmed she would be atop Bayern on Saturday, per David Grening of Daily Racing Form:
Baffert confirmed that Rosie Napravnik rides Bayern in Preakness.— David Grening (@DRFGrening) May 9, 2014
Baffert himself is out for a win by any means necessary after one of the Derby's biggest favorites, Hoppertunity, had to bow out of the proceedings before the race.
It's a Triple Crown race. It's my home track with all my friends and family around. We'd have half the grandstand cheering for us — that's what would make it special. I would feel like — if I was able to ride the winner of the Preakness — that I was doing it for everybody who got me started in Maryland.
Suffice it to say that there is a lot on the line for both on Saturday. Bayern has an elite explosion off the line, and the horse has a major chance to win considering the track in Baltimore is shorter than the one at the Kentucky Derby.
Bayern is a favorite for good reason, but it's important to note that even Napravnik won't be able to get enough out of him to compete with California Chrome. It's easy to ride with the favorite, but until he proves otherwise, California Chrome is the surefire winner on Saturday. Bayern is a close second.