Preakness Odds 2014: Sleepers with the Best Chance to Win at Pimlico
With the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, just days away, the public seems to have already anointed Kentucky Derby champion California Chrome as the winner. But, as history has proven, there is no such thing as a sure thing in horse racing.
As recently as last year, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Orb would go on to win the Preakness after winning the Run for the Roses. The racing world sat stunned as he finished a non-threatening fourth. In 2000, Fusaichi Pegasus entered the Preakness hailed as the next great superstar. He seemed invincible...right until he wound up second as the heavy favorite.
While California Chrome is the big standout and could have the makings of being something truly special, he is not unbeatable. Here is a look at some horses that are flying under the radar and could have a chance to upset the Preakness Stakes in order of most likely to least likely to win.
Ring Weekend: 20-1
Installed as a big long shot at 20-1 according to Vegas Insider, Ring Weekend could be the type of horse ready to spring a major upset. He was forced to withdraw from consideration for the Kentucky Derby with a minor illness and that may have been a blessing in disguise.
He now comes into the Preakness Stakes refreshed and potentially poised for a big effort. His trainer, Graham Motion, is one of the most respected horsemen in the industry and is a master at getting a horse to peak condition. In addition, he has enjoyed the bulk of his career success in Maryland, and one can assume winning the Preakness is high on his bucket list.
Dynamic Impact: 16-1
There is no telling how good Dynamic Impact may or may not be at this point. It took the colt five starts to finally break his maiden, but once the ice was broken it appears something clicked into place. He followed his maiden victory with a stakes win in the Illinois Derby, and while that did not give him points to qualify for the Run for the Roses, he did prove he belongs with stakes company.
Norman Casse, his trainer Mark Casse's son, told Louisville's The Courier-Journal that they do find California Chrome to be a formidable threat, though.
"I think California Chrome is heads above everybody else," Norman Casse said. "If he runs his race, he's certainly going to be tough to beat. But we feel our horse deserves a chance to prove that he belongs in the big leagues."
Ride On Curlin: 12-1
In the Kentucky Derby, Ride On Curlin had one of the most eventful trips. He was compromised immediately by the outside post draw and then took a sharp left out of the gate to secure a spot on the rail. When that move did not prove fruitful, jockey Calvin Borel swung him to the middle of the track and by that point had used up too much energy to have much of an impact.
He will have a new pilot in the Preakness Stakes, the red-hot rider Joel Rosario. Rosario was fourth in the Preakness last year aboard Orb and third the year before with Creative Cause. He is no stranger to big races and may be the change that this colt needs for his first stakes victory.
It just isn't a Triple Crown race without a Bob Baffert horse in the race. Bayern was touted as a rising star early in the year, and though he missed the Kentucky Derby with a lack of points, he still could be one of the top sophomores in the Baffert barn.
The speedy colt will get an equipment change in an effort to help him relax and rate off of the pace. In the Derby Trial, he got blinkers back on after running successfully without them in two of his prior starts. Blinkers often help a horse focus and can encourage a horse to be forwardly placed early. With the blinkers off, the colt may not be as likely to get caught up in a speed duel.
Baffert explained his strategy to Brisnet, saying, "If we're going to get him to track horses, track the speed, he needs them off."
Social Inclusion: 6-1
While some horses have wound up in the Preakness because they were forced to miss the Kentucky Derby or because they are trying to avenge a Derby debacle, the Preakness has been the end game for Social Inclusion all along.
The lightly raced, talented colt broke his maiden in February at Gulfstream, and his trainer, Manuel Azpurua, set his sights on the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The colt may lack experience, but he does have talent.
In recent years, the Preakness has been kind to new shooters who have skipped the Derby—Red Bullet (2000), Bernardini (2006) and Rachel Alexandra (2009) all won after not competing in the Run for the Roses.
Kid Cruz: 15-1
Kid Cruz may have the home-track advantage. The up and coming colt seems to be improving at the right time and has proven one thing that the rest of his rivals have not—he can win at Pimlico.
Though he did beat a softer field in the Federico Tesio Stakes in April, it was a good effort, and he appears to head into this race in good order. He will be trying to become the first horse to sweep the Federico Tesio/Preakness double since 1983, so history may not really be in his favor.
He may, at the end of the day, be simply a cut below the top-tier horses in this race but could hit the board at a big price.
Ria Antonia: 32-1
Ria Antonia is by all accounts a hopeless long shot in this race and seems to be in way over her head. That being said, stranger things have happened, and with the race of her life, she could certainly have upset potential.
After she won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies by disqualification last fall, her owners seemed determined to race her against boys with the Kentucky Derby in mind. When those plans failed to come to fruition, she ran against the girls in the Kentucky Oaks.
Rachel Alexandra earned her spot in the Preakness starting gate with one of the most impressive, dominant performances in Kentucky Oaks history. Ria Antonia was sixth in her Oaks. It did not leave quite the same impression.