Runaway favorite California Chrome drew the third post for the 2014 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, May 17. Chrome will have to end a winless streak for that post that stretches over 20 years if he wants to keep his shot at a Triple Crown alive.
The third post has fielded the winner of this race 11 times since 1909 but hasn't had a winner since Prairie Bayou pulled off the feat in 1993. The drought doesn't seem to be concerning those in Chrome's camp.
Maryland Jockey Club's Mike Gathagan shared their reaction:
Here are the post positions and morning line for the 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|
I'd like to be provocative here and pick a horse other than California Chrome to win, but there would be nothing to base that prediction on other than a hunch I don't have.
All signs point toward Chrome in this one. One thing detractors, if there are any, may point to is a relatively slow time at the Derby. His final time of two minutes, 3.66 seconds was the slowest Derby on a fast track since 1974.
The problem with that is Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza simply did what they had to do to win and not much else.
Trainer Art Sherman shed insight on that subject and Chrome's state of mind in a quote passed along by Beth Harris of The Associated Press (via the Traverse City Record-Eagle):
(Espinoza) said he didn't ask him for too much thinking about saving something for the next one, for the Preakness," Sherman said, adding that his colt is "peaking now. He's full of himself.
Indeed, that was a shrewd tactic by Espinoza, who knows a thing or two about making a run at the Triple Crown. He and War Emblem took the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2002.
Chrome will be facing plenty of horses who have not had as quick a turnaround as he, but that hasn't been much of a hindrance at the Preakness, which is the shortest of the three Triple Crown races. In fact, eight of the past 16 winners of the Preakness were also the Kentucky Derby champion.
Chrome's toughest competitors in this race will be Bayern and Social Inclusion.
Bayern didn't run in the Kentucky Derby. Instead he opted for the Derby Trial Stakes and led that race wire to wire. He was denied the win when it was ruled he interfered with another horse, but the run was still impressive.
The Blood-Horse's J. Keeler Johnson likes his chances. Johnson said: "There is a horse pointing toward the Preakness Stakes that should not be overlooked. ... The horse is Bayern."
As The Washington Post's Rick Snider tweets, Bayern is cutting an impressive figure at Pimlico:
Bayern arrives for Preakness. Impressive looking. pic.twitter.com/XqkZ48xV3v— Rick Snider (@Snide_Remarks) May 14, 2014
Social Inclusion will press Bayern for show. Inclusion was scratched from his last start, a Gulfstream stakes race on May 3, but is healthy and ready to go. The Daily Racing Form's Marcus Hersh reported that Inclusion is training well.
There is no denying Inclusion's speed. He set Gulfstream Park's track record for 1 1/16 miles.
Both Social Inclusion and Bayern will start outside of Chrome. Inclusion will be starting in the fifth post and Bayern the eighth. I expect the two to battle for the lead for much of the race. They won't be able to hold off Chrome down the stretch, however, and Chrome will gallop to another comfortable victory.
Win: California Chrome
Show: Social Inclusion