All that stands in the way of California Chrome's second step toward history is 9.5 furlongs of racing at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
The 139th Preakness takes place Saturday, May 17, and post time is scheduled for 6:18 p.m. ET. The main storyline is clearly California Chrome's continued pursuit of the Triple Crown after his win at the Kentucky Derby, but the field is loaded with talented horses.
Here is a look at updated odds, according to Odds Shark, as of Monday, May 12:
|Pablo Del Monte||+2000|
|Ride On Curlin||+800|
|General a Rod||+1200|
The entire field of contenders has not been officially filled, but here is what it looked like Monday, per the official Preakness website:
|Horse||Race Records (per Preakness website)|
|Pablo Del Monte||6-2-0-2|
|Ride On Curlin||10-2-2-4|
|General a Rod||6-2-2-1|
Now that we know the odds and majority of horses set to run, let's dig into some more details on two of the top horses to watch.
California Chrome is and will be a rock star in the horse racing world until he loses a Triple Crown race. If he doesn't lose, he will live forever in the storied history books of the sport.
He certainly received a warm welcome when he arrived in Baltimore, via The Baltimore Sun:
Perhaps the biggest question going forward is whether California Chrome has the endurance to win a Triple Crown, but the Preakness is the shortest of the three races.
Therefore, that may not be a pressing issue until the Belmont, especially if trainer Art Sherman's comments are any indication when he was asked about the lack of rest between the Derby and the Preakness, according to bloodhorse.com (via ESPN.com): "I'm not scared, I'm just excited. It's quite the experience. We've never gone through anything like this before."
Will California Chrome win the Preakness?
California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby with an impressive final stretch, but the Preakness may not be a long enough track to rely solely on that finishing speed.
With that in mind, look for jockey Victor Espinoza to ride California Chrome hard at the start to stay with or ahead of the pack. The finishing speed won't go anywhere just because the track is shorter, but he will have to find it sooner than he did at Churchill Downs.
Presuming he does, horse racing will see a serious spike in popularity as California Chrome shoots for the first Triple Crown since 1978.
General a Rod
Those who tuned into the Derby will recognize the name General a Rod.
Unfortunately for General a Rod, he picked a poor time to finish off the board for the first time in six career starts. He finished a disappointing 11th at Churchill Downs and is looking for some redemption at the Preakness.
He actually finished in first or second place in his first four career starts and counts a title at the Gulfstream Park Derby to his resume. He also finished in third place in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and just missed coming away with a win.
It is worth pointing out that Javier Castellano, who finished in second place atop General a Rod in the Gulfstream Park Derby, will be the jockey at the Preakness. Perhaps that familiarity will help General a Rod challenge California Chrome in Baltimore.
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