California Chrome has turned the oddsmakers into soothsayers so far with his five-race win streak, the last of which was a resounding victory at the 140th Kentucky Derby. Every year, fans look for a potential Triple Crown winner, and California Chrome is the favorite horse in the 2014 Preakness Stakes.
The $10,000 investment on California Chrome could pay off in a huge way for his owners, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin. The powerful thoroughbred held off a late charge from Commanding Curve and won the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths. He is set to run rampant at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday for the Triple Crown's second leg.
According to VegasInsider.com, California Chrome has 5-8 odds to win the 2014 Preakness Stakes. As for winning the Triple Crown, OddsShark.com reports (as of May 5) a +200 moneyline on a "yes" answer to the question "Will California Chrome win the 2014 Triple Crown?"
The odds are in favor of this out-of-nowhere contender looking to become the first Triple Crown victor since Affirmed in 1978.
The horse hails from the Los Alamitos Race Course in Orange County, California—an out-of-the-way track known for its lucrative quarter-horse racing rather than a breeding ground for champion thoroughbreds. California Chrome has been turning heads ever since his stunning victory at the Santa Anita Derby in April.
There appears to be no shortage of confidence in California Chrome this year, but the horse hasn't put every argument against him to rest.
The criticism of Chrome stems from his relatively slow winning time at the Derby. The chestnut colt took the race in 2:03.66, the slowest time on a fast-rated track since Cannonade took the Run For the Roses with his 2:04 result in 1974.
Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden offered his insight into California Chrome's Derby time.
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
NBC Sports' Randy Moss noted that California Chrome wasn't even the fastest horse at the Derby.
For those who care, based on @TrakusRacing data, CCurve ran 9 feet farther than CChrome. So CChrome ran race 54.09 ft/sec, and CCurve 54.04.— Randy Moss (@randy_moss_TV) May 5, 2014
Still California Chrome was running the same track as every other horse, and no other horse in the field could turn a supposedly "fast" track into a winning time. The argument about times probably won't deter California Chrome's team of owners and trainers. Coburn wasn't afraid to tip his horse to make history before the Derby, as per the Associated Press:
"I told people this colt will go down in history," said Coburn. "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."
Of course, Chrome's chances of winning the Triple Crown, and especially the Preakness, might be bolstered by the lack of top challengers. Hoppertunity was a top contender for the Derby but was a late scratch and didn't race. Commanding Curve, Danza and Wicked Strong—who finished second through fourth at the Derby, respectively— are all going to skip out on the Preakness, according to Bob Ehalt of ESPN.com.
Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman noted just how rare it is for so few horses to make the journey from Louisville to Baltimore.
If California Chrome and Ride On Curlin are only 2 Derby runners in Preakness, would be first time so few since 2008 -- Big Brown, Gayego.— Jay Privman (@DRFPrivman) May 8, 2014
Social Inclusion, with 6-1 odds at the Preakness Stakes, as per VegasInsider.com, didn't even qualify for the Derby but looks to be California Chrome's strongest challenger.
Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown?
California Chrome has all the makings of a Triple Crown-winning horse. Five consecutive wins and a weakened field bode well for him heading into this Saturday's race in Baltimore. Pimlico Race Course will have its challenges, however. The sprinter's track may not leave California Chrome with enough time to make the same kind of late push that took him to victory at Churchill Downs.
Speedy horses like General A Rod and Social Inclusion will look to the set the pace on Saturday to prevent California Chrome from taking the second leg of the Triple Crown and dash his owner's underdog aspirations.
Even if California Chrome wins on Saturday, the Belmont Stakes won't be anything like a walk in Central Park if top challengers like Commanding Curve and Wicked Strong enter the competition.
All odds are current as of Monday, May 12, unless otherwise noted.