The second leg of the Triple Crown goes down on May 17 at Pimlico Race Course in the running of the 2014 Preakness.
Heading into the all-important post position draw, which places the 14 potential contestants in their posts and drastically alters the odds in some cases, only California Chrome is getting the wealth of the attention.
Rightfully so, as the globe has not seen a more legitimate threat to a Triple Crown in years. While the whole field has not been determined before the draw, there are other noteworthy storylines sure to develop once the draw cements the field.
Here's a look at the details surrounding the draw, pre-draw odds and predictions for the big day.
What: 2014 Preakness Post Position Draw
When: Wednesday, May 14 2014 at 6 p.m. ET
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland
TV/Live Stream: HRTV.com (subscription required)
|Ride on Curlin||+800|
|General a Rod||+1200|
|Pablo Del Monte||+2000|
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
|1||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza|
|3||General A Rod||Javier Castellano|
|4||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel|
|5||Ride on Curlin||Joel Rosario|
California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza are a safe bet at any odds at this point. A winner of five straight, whispers of California Chrome not being the fastest at Churchill Downs are silly when one considers the duo pulled up with the race in hand.
Even if California Chrome is starting to slow, the race at Pimlico is shorter than the Derby. The sport hasn't seen such dominance in a decade or more, so barring a drastic change in performance, California Chrome is the surefire winner.
Trainer Tom Amoss, who brings Ria Antonia and jockey Calvin Borel to the field (more on them later), concurs, per Jennie Rees of the Louisville Courier-Journal:
Much of how the final order plays out is subject to change after the post draw, but one has to think Rosie Napravnik and Bayern will be in heavy contention regardless. Bayern is trained by legend Bob Baffert and finished first in a Derby trial, but was disqualified. For Napravnik, the affair in Baltimore is of the home-field variety.
Fans will also recognize one General a Rod, who finished 11th at the Derby and already has the look of a strong contender after opening practice runs, as illustrated by Steve Sherack of the Thoroughbred Daily News:
General A Rod very much on his toes and looking good coming off the track after getting his first look at Pim— Steve Sherack (@SteveSherackTDN) May 13, 2014
General a Rod's contention will surely ride on the post position, but much like Ride on Curlin and jockey Joel Rosario, the quick burst off the line displayed at Churchill Downs will do much to gain separation from the pack in a race that is a shorter affair.
If there is a horse who can shock the entire field, one has to look no further than Ria Antonia, the first filly in the running since 2009. Despite losing her last three races, co-owner Ron Paolucci is confident that things will turn around, according to Alicia Wincze Hughes of The Kansas City Star:
They called me dumb when I ran in the Breeders' Cup ... and I won. Even if you think I'm off my rocker, anyone who knows Tom Amoss knows that he's not going unless he believes we have some kind of a chance to win. …
Maybe we'll shock the world one more time. Is it more crazy that I took a filly with her line and ran her in the Breeders' Cup, or is it more crazy that I took her and ran her in the Preakness?
If Ria Antonia can correct past mistakes and get off to a fast start, which she should thanks to a legend like Borel guiding the way, the 2014 Preakness may have a surprise winner. She has gone too wide in past events, but it's a correctable mistake for a jockey like Borel, who should never be bet against.