We don't know what the post positions will be for the Preakness Stakes quite yet, but the odds-on favorite could not be more clear.
After emerging with a fairly easy Kentucky Derby win, California Chrome is the frontrunner by a significant margin to take the Black-Eyed Susans.
Most of Chrome's closest competition at Churchill Downs won't be coming for another run at Pimlico. While there are some talented new shooters in the field, Chrome was too much more impressive than his competition in Louisville to predict, sight unseen, that a fresh challenger will take him down.
These odds have been shifting throughout the lead-up to the race and will continue to do so up until betting closes, but Chrome's position in the odds is secure.
|2014 Preakness Stakes Betting Lines|
|Ride On Curlin||12/1|
|General a Rod||25/1|
|Pablo Del Monte||25/1|
Take note, though, that there are some respected challengers in this Preakness field.
Of the few Derby horses taking a second go at Chrome, Ride On Curlin is the most intriguing to watch.
Curlin trainer Billy Gowan and jockey Calvin Borel had high hopes for the horse at Churchill Downs, but Borel and Gowan ultimately didn't see eye to eye on strategy. Per Bloodhorse.com's Claire Novak (h/t ESPN.com), Gowan wanted Borel to ease his mount down toward the rail gradually, but Borel went straight from the gate and wound up blocked; Curlin ultimately finished sixth.
"I told him before the race that he had three-eighths of a mile to work his way over," Gowan said.
Gowan said Ride On Curlin is doing well and would return to the track Wednesday.
"He was not tired at all after the Derby. He only ran three-eighths of a mile," Gowan said. "He was more tired after his seven-eighths work [April 27]."
Now, Joel Rosario will serve as Curlin's mount, and he won't likely encounter the same obstacles at Pimlico. The Preakness field features six fewer horses than the Derby's, reducing the chances of getting stuck in a traffic jam on the rail.
Pimlico's track is also a half furlong shorter than Churchill Downs', giving speedier horses an edge and placing even less of an onus on endurance.
That works in Social Inclusion's favor. The new shooter has just three career races under his belt, but he has won two of them, placing third in the other. To the delight of trainer Manuel Azupura, per Bloodhorse.com (h/t ESPN.com), Inclusion ran four furlongs in 47 seconds, the fast time of Monday's works.
"This morning when we came to the track I told the owner I wanted :46-and-change," said Azpurua, after Monday's move that he watched from the porch of the Pimlico press box with Ron Sanchez of Rontos Racing. "So, I'm happy. The jockey didn't move on him. It was just what I was looking for."
Then there's Danza, the highest-placing finisher at Churchill Downs to come after Chrome again.
Namesake of Tony, Danza came in third at the Derby, just trailing Commanding Curve. That finish and public familiarity with him as a challenger make him a popular upset pick, but Chrome beat him handily in their first race under very similar conditions. Those 7/1 odds seem too kind.
Even so, 7/1 is the closest any horse in the field gets to Chrome's 5/8 odds. Other impressive horses will make a bid for the Black-Eyed Susans, but none are more talented than California Chrome, who has proven his success in a way none of his competition can match.
The betting lines are already heavily on Chrome's side, but considering his advantage heading into the second leg of the Triple Crown, they could still swing his way even more.
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