California Chrome is not only the surefire top pick at the 2014 iteration of the Preakness Stakes, the Art Sherman-trained horse has a great shot at taking home the rare Triple Crown prize.
Of course, anything can happen in a given race.
Even though the track is shorter than the one at Churchill Downs and there are just 10 horses in the proceedings at Pimlico, the stakes are even higher Saturday than they were at the Kentucky Derby because the sport can move one step closer to a marquee moment that defines a generation.
Let's take a look at the odds, California Chrome and two other smart picks bettors should throw coin behind this Saturday.
139th Preakness Stakes
When: Saturday, May 17 (Post time is 6:18 p.m. ET)
Where: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland
TV: NBC (Broadcast begins at 4:30 p.m. ET)
|Post||Horse||Jockey||Odds to Win|
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||12-1|
|2||General A Rod||Javier Castellano||15-1|
|3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||3-5|
|4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||20-1|
|6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||30-1|
|7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||20-1|
|8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||5-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||20-1|
|10||Ride on Curlin||Joel Rosario||10-1|
Odds via Preakness.com.
Odds via the Preakness Stakes.
One can't mention the favorites at Pimlico and not bring up California Chrome given the history at stake and overall dominance of the sport's best performer.
The odds don't pay well, but those bettors who want to play it safe don't have to worry too much. Negative whispers can be heard about California's "slow" time at the Derby, but it was a slow field overall and the time would have been faster had Victor Espinoza not slowed down with the race already decided.
That said, there is something noteworthy to look at from a historical perspective after California Chrome was hit with the No. 3 spot during Wednesday's post draw. SportingCharts has the scoop:
#Preakness2014 post position draw goes in the next few hours. Since 1995, there hasn't been a Preakness winner from positions 1 through 3.— SportingCharts (@sportingcharts) May 14, 2014
That's a scary stat, but here's another—entering the Derby, California Chrome had won four races by more than a combined 24 lengths. This is the sort of domination the sport has not seen in some time, hence the odds, hence the safe bet. Fire away.
Ride on Curlin
At 10-1, Ride on Curlin pays a decent amount for those brave enough to ignore the negatives, which certainly have flaws of their own upon deeper analysis.
The biggest drawback to jockey Joel Rosario and Ride on Curlin's chances at the moment is the No. 10 post on the outside. After all, the horse got hit with an outside post at the Kentucky Derby after being labeled a favorite and finished an underwhelming seventh.
But as Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form points out, things at face value may not be what they seem:
Ride on Curlin in post 10 is not necessarily a bad thing. #preakness— Marcus Hersh (@DRFHersh) May 14, 2014
Trainer Billy Gowan broke down why the outside spot is not a major negative this time around, according to Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun.
“I think it’s less of a big deal,” he said. “We’re already eight horses in from where we started in Kentucky. There’s a bunch of speed, so we’ll just lay off the pace and have a target to shoot for in the end.”
Ride on Curlin is a horse of many styles, so Rosario gets to sit back and watch how the race shapes up before picking a moment to strike. With less traffic to navigate this time around, Ride on Curlin is not a horse to overlook.
Legendary trainer Bob Baffert has had his eye on the Preakness for quite some time and is taking a shot with Bayern.
As captured by Jay Privman of DRF, Baffert is ready to see if Bayern has what it takes on the big stage after two wins earlier in the year:
Bayern isn’t a Belmont-type of a horse, so if we’re going to run in a Triple Crown race, this is it. Does he have distance limitations, or will he go on? That’s what we’re going to find out in the Preakness. We’re taking a shot. It’s all about being right at the right time.
Any poker players who happen across that quote know the deal.
Baffert is smart. No need to anger the competition. No need to jinx a win. The man is a living legend who can get the most out of any horse, including one like Bayern who possesses one of the sport's quickest bursts out of the gate.
Add in an experienced jockey in Rosie Napravnik, and it becomes apparent that the odds favor Bayern for good reason.