There was little surprise when the morning line for the 2014 Preakness Stakes came to light along with the post positions. California Chrome is a heavy favorite, and only the feared No. 1 post could possibly have changed that.
A small field should make for an interesting race, as no horse will have to come from way outside in order to make a move towards the front of the pack. There should be plenty of excitement on hand Saturday afternoon when the horses take their posts and line up to deliver a $1.5 million prize to their owners.
Here are the post positions, latest odds and my predictions for every horse in the Preakness lineup.
|2||General a Rod||15-1||7|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||20-1||10|
|10||Ride On Curlin||10-1||6|
HRTV, Official Preakness Odds
Odds are updated as of Wednesday, May 14.
California Chrome should have no trouble in this race with the No. 3 post position. Although he is unlikely to be a wire-to-wire winner, California Chrome should be able to get enough of a push from jockey Victor Espinoza to overtake any of the other thoroughbreds during the final stretch of the race.
Some are looking at the No. 3 spot as a harbinger of doom for California Chrome. Daily Racing Form's David Grening unearthed this historical tidbit:
California Chrome drew post 3 inside of speed horses Social Inclusion (8) and Pablo del Monte (9) Prairie Bayou '93 last horse to win from 3— David Grening (@DRFGrening) May 14, 2014
California Chrome's trainer Art Sherman believes the pressure is off him and his beautiful horse. The Derby is the crown jewel of horse racing in his eyes, as per Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times.
"The Derby, that's the race every trainer wants to win," Sherman said. "The horse doesn't have anything to prove."
Social Inclusion is likely to finish in at least second or third place, as few horses have the same combination of speed and lightly-used hooves as this thoroughbred does. Social Inclusion never raced as a two-year-old and has burst out of the gate with two victories and a third-place finish in three overall starts.
Bayern, trained by the legendary Bob Baffert, is going to do just fine out of the No. 5 post position. Baffert believes his horse has the mental fortitude to race without blinkers and try to make a move from the middle of the pack.
Via Aaron Dodson and Don Markus of The Baltimore Sun: "I just think that if he's going to lay off horses, I think he's going to be better off without blinkers," Baffert said. "He actually has a pretty good mind."
Ria Antonia, galloping out of the No. 6 post, will at least have history on her side in the race. Via Daily Racing Form's Twitter account:
Since 1909 (first year stats available), including split race in 1918, post 6 winningest #Preakness post w/ 16 winners.— DRF Derby (@DRFDerby) May 14, 2014
The fine filly won't make history by winning this race, but thanks to jockey Calvin Borel, should be able to surprise some and finish in the upper half of the field. Of course, with the cunning Borel at the helm, Ria Antonia does have as good a shot as any thoroughbred of coming up with money-winning finish.
Borel is confident in his horse's chances, as per Kentucky Derby Contenders on Twitter:
Ria Antonia jock Borel: "There are no outstanding horses other than California Chrome. If we can find a hole, we’ve got a shot.”— KY Derby Contenders (@DerbyContenders) May 14, 2014
General a Rod and Ride on Curlin are the only other horses to race in both the Derby and the Preakness, but they won't be able to do much with their unfortunate No. 2 and No. 10 draws, respectively.
Daily Racing Form's Marcus Hersh sees Ride on Curlin struggling in the race:
General A Rod in 2, on the other hand, is not good. Could get buried down inside.— Marcus Hersh (@DRFHersh) May 14, 2014
And finally, the stragglers in the race will be the non-Derby entrants such as Ring Weekend and Pablo Del Monte, who was a Derby alternate but made a late scratch from the event.
Which horse has the best chance of upsetting California Chrome?
California Chrome is saddled with great expectations heading into the 2014 Preakness Stakes and should be ready to deliver. The slow Derby winning time notwithstanding, this is a weakened field that poses very little threat to the chestnut colt. At this point, the owners and trainers of the other nine horses must believe that they have a great shot at second or third place.
The Preakness is the shortest competition in the Triple Crown and is immediately followed by the Belmont Stakes. Should California Chrome fulfill his destiny and win on Saturday, the scene at Belmont will be one of the craziest in years as the nation looks for the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed pulled off the legendary feat in 1978.