After California Chrome's dominant performance in winning the Kentucky Derby, everyone wants to know if he can keep the dream of a Triple Crown alive at the 2014 Preakness Stakes.
There will be a smaller field at Pimlico than there was at Churchill Downs, but there will still be a number of tough challengers for first place. Competitors that came up short at the Kentucky Derby will want revenge, while a new batch of thoroughbreds will also be in contention for a spot in the winner's circle.
With the draw deciding the starting position for each entry, here is a look at the latest odds for the upcoming race.
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Mark E. Casse||12-1|
|2||General a Rod||Javier Castellano||Mike Maker||15-1|
|3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||3-5|
|4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||H. Graham Motion||20-1|
|5||Bayern||Rosie Napravnik||Bob Baffert||10-1|
|6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||Tom Amoss||30-1|
|7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||Linda Rice||20-1|
|8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||Manny Azpurua||5-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley A. Ward||20-1|
|10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||William Gowan||10-1|
It was almost too easy for California Chrome in the last race. Jockey Victor Espinoza was able to pace his horse while keeping him near the front of the pack. He then charged toward the end to win the Derby without much competition.
The big question after that performance is whether the horse can recover quickly enough to win another tough competition just two weeks later.
Trainer Art Sherman was still hopeful, though, explaining to Steve Haskin of BloodHorse.com:
It usually takes a horse 10 days to bounce back from a race, but he's holding his weight really well and he ate up every oat last night. We'll school him in the gate and the paddock (Thursday). I like the fact he's gained 35 pounds since the Derby; that's a good sign. The horse is feeling good as is doing everything right. He's traveled to four different racetracks recently and is getting to be a real trooper.
California Chrome will start from the No. 3 post, which is a decent draw for the Triple Crown contender. The key will be to not get trapped inside without room to make a move to the front.
If Espinoza can keep him in good position, the horse will be just fine going forward.
There is a lot of mystery when it comes to Social Inclusion. The horse has two wins and a third-place finish in his last three starts. Unfortunately, those three events are the only ones of his career.
He did not compete at the Kentucky Derby, but he did face a lot of the same competition at the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. In that race, he was right near the front until Wicked Strong was able to pull away from the pack to win, leaving Social Inclusion to finish in third.
However, the horse has loads of talent with the pure speed to challenge the top competitors in the race.
Steve Sherack of Thoroughbred Daily News was impressed by what he saw at Pimlico:
Most impressed by Social Inclusion today. Came out on track with a ton of energy for a horse that fired a bullet Monday, then jogged Tues.— Steve Sherack (@SteveSherackTDN) May 14, 2014
Social Inclusion will start from the No. 8 post at the Preakness and should be able to get off to a good start. Without getting too far ahead of himself, he will be in good shape at Pimlico.
Although Bayern has had an up-and-down path to the Preakness, he remains one of the top contenders in this big race. With legendary trainer Bob Baffert getting the horse into shape, anything can happen.
Bayern has finished in the top three in all four of his starts, including an impressive third-place showing at the Arkansas Derby.
Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form breaks down the thoroughbred's short career:
Bayern looked like a rising star earlier this year, when he won his first two starts, both at Santa Anita, including a dazzling 15-length victory against allowance runners Feb. 13. He was expected to run in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in his next start and would have faced California Chrome, but he had a training setback and has been trying to get back to that good form ever since.
The good news is the speed is there to make a run at California Chrome this time around. He is a quick starter and should do well on a sprinter's course like Pimlico.
At the very least, he will have a major role in this competition as someone who can increase the pace and force the rest of the field to keep up. If he does not tire down the stretch, jockey Rosie Napravnik will be able to lead him to victory.
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