After an exhilarating Kentucky Derby less than two weeks ago, it's almost time for the second round of the Triple Crown.
With the 2014 Preakness Stakes set to start on Saturday, the field is nearly set. Out of 14 horses ready to trot out at Pimlico, only one horse is garnering much of the attention for Saturday's stakes race.
California Chrome pulled away from the field at Churchill Downs to win the Derby for Art Sherman. Now the colt is seen as a potential contender for the Triple Crown, which would make him the first since Affirmed in 1978 to accomplish the feat.
Behind the Derby winner is a daunting field full of strong geldings—and even a Filly looking to contend. With a familiar face in Ride On Curlin confirmed for the race and Danza expected to enter, the Preakness is all but a sure thing for California Chrome.
Before the race gets underway on Saturday at 6:18 ET on NBC, here's a look at the current odds with 10 of the 14 horses announced.
|Ride On Curlin||12/1||Confirmed|
|Strong Mandate||17/1||Not Entered|
|General A Rod||20/1||Confirmed|
|Pablo Del Monte||24/1||Confirmed|
Odds updated on May 12.
California Chrome (5-8)
The golden gelding is back, and he looks like the odds-on favorite to win in Baltimore.
After a dominant performance at Churchill Downs, the colt is already looking like a prime candidate for the Triple Crown.
In fact, talk of the historic feat started before the 77-year-old Sherman ever left Louisville with California Chrome, as Rick Bozich of WDRB pointed out:
California Chrome won't leave Louisville for Baltimore for 8 days, but the Triple Crown debate has begun. http://t.co/iQdN91vJgt— rickbozich (@rickbozich) May 4, 2014
Owner Steve Coburn is already looking at the rest of the races, telling Beth Harris of The Associated Press, "I told people this colt will go down in history. When he wins the Triple Crown, he will be the first California-bred to ever win a Triple Crown. That's where we're going."
After putting on a show in Louisville, California Chrome will carry that momentum into Baltimore with a chance to live up to those expectations. With a potential Triple Crown on the line, he will have to get past the field at the Preakness first.
Danza is named after the boss, and he nearly lived up to his name at the Derby.
Named after Tony Danza, the colt finished just behind Commanding Curve in third in Louisville. But following a strong performance, Danza will be stiff competition for California Chrome at Pimlico.
While he came up short in the Kentucky Derby, this horse has a great track record after winning the Arkansas Derby. Trainer Aron Wellman spoke about his horse's surge recently and the shock of winning in Arkansas, per Jeff Greer of The Courier-Journal:
In the last month, he's definitely become a boss. (Danza) wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it.
If I said I wasn't surprised, I'd be lying to you. It hits you like a ton of bricks. ... There are two schools of thought: One that says the Arkansas Derby had to be a fluke. The second is people delving deeper into his form and saying he hadn't done anything wrong and that maybe it wasn't a fluke.
This could be the horse that's in the right place at the right time.
Though he's not even confirmed for the race or listed as a participant, Danza is expected to enter the field before Saturday. With Vegas odds already penning him as the potential runner-up to Cali Chrome, look for Danza to improve on his performance from Churchill Downs.
Social Inclusion (6-1)
Which horse will win the Preakness Stakes?
The son of 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneer of the Nile, Social Inclusion enters the second leg of the Triple Crown with hopes of bettering his father's Preakness placement.
While he comes in lightly raced, Social Inclusion is a front-runner with a nose for the lead. After winning his maiden race and entering his first stakes race, the gelding fell just short at the Wood Memorial.
Though he lost steam down the stretch, ultimately falling to Wicked Strong and Samraat, Social Inclusion simply needs a strong finish at Pimlico. If he can find a way to the front again and hold off Cali Chrome, look out for Social Inclusion to shock the field in Baltimore.
With a ticket already punched for the pivotal race in the Triple Crown, pressure will surely be applied to California Chrome by this horse.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.