After breaking away from the pace-setting pack and racing out to a massive, insurmountable lead at the Kentucky Derby, California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza slowed during the final few lengths, allowing a barreling Commanding Curve to narrow the gap.
At Pimlico, that won't matter.
Not only is Dallas Stewart's second-place-finishing horse absent from this year's Preakness Stakes field, but "The Second Jewel of the Triple Crown" is considerably shorter than the Kentucky Derby, clocking in at just 9 and 1/2 furlongs.
Although the run at Churchill turned out to be one of the slowest in history, the decreased distance in Baltimore will play to California Chrome's immense speed.
Unsurprisingly, Art Sherman's rock-star horse is the odds-on favorite, but let's take a look at how the complete field stacks up, via OddsShark.com, as well as some horses that will challenge California Chrome's quest for the Triple Crown.
|Ride On Curlin||+800|
|General A Rod||+1200|
|Pablo Del Monte||+2000|
As of May 10, 2014, at 8:43 p.m. ET
There's going to be a lot of speed at Pimlico this week, but don't be surprised if Social Inclusion is out at the front of it all.
Making his debut in February, the three-year-old colt obliterated the field, only to follow that up with an impressive win over Honor Code 18 days later. Buzz was quickly building around Manuel J. Azpurua's horse, but a third-place finish at the Grade 1 Wood Memorial behind Wicked Strong and Samraat kept him out of the Kentucky Derby.
Still, as you can see, Social Inclusion led for much of that race before slowing in the final seconds:
The blazing speed is evident, and jockey Luis Contreras, via Daily Racing Form's Marcus Hersh, had strong words of praise after a workout on Monday morning:
Social Inclusion jock Contreras said mount felt 'very light' working over PIM surface. 'He felt like he was flying.' #preakness— Marcus Hersh (@DRFHersh) May 12, 2014
Expect to see Social Inclusion at the front of the pack for much of the race. Whether or not he can hold on for the entire 9 and 1/2 furlongs is a different question, but it's easy to see why this impressive horse is among the favorites.
Following a first-place finish at the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, Danza went into Churchill Downs and placed in the money once again, this time coming in third despite a fairly terrible trip.
There is still plenty of room for improvement, and if this horse runs a clean race, it certainly has the talent to surpass California Chrome. However, HRTV's Aron Wellman, via Christina Blacker, reported that Todd Pletcher won't take his horse to Pimlico:
Right now on HRTV Aron Wellman tells me that Danza will not run in the Preakness. He will train up to the Belmont.— Christina Blacker (@ChristinaBlackr) May 8, 2014
Although Pletcher has said a run in the Preakness is "very unlikely," via The Baltimore Sun's Don Markus, nothing is official. We'll leave Danza here for now simply because of his potential should he be given a late surprise entry.
Ride on Curlin
Ride on Curlin entered the Kentucky Derby with six consecutive top-three finishes, including a third at the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and a second at the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.
Optimism was high, but Calvin "Bo-Rail" Borel tried a little too hard to live up to his nickname at Churchill. Coming out of the No. 19 post, Borel went straight for the inside, where he got stuck in dead last. When things cleared up, Ride on Curlin was able to make an impressive late run to finish seventh, but it was too little, too late.
Take a look at the abnormally poor trip for the Hall of Famer:
Still, it was a sneaky good run from Ride on Curlin, and if not for that early trip to the rail, things could have been much different. Fortunately, that isn't likely to happen at Pimlico, as last year's Kentucky Derby winner, Joel Rosario, is set to replace Borel.
Despite the lack of momentum after that seventh-place finish, the son of former Preakness winner Curlin is a strong bet to put an end to yet another year of Triple Crown talk.