The 2014 Preakness Stakes is this Saturday, and as the race draws closer, there are a few horses that are looking like legitimate contenders.
This year's Preakness should likely be more competitive than last year's. In 2013, legendary jockey Gary Stevens led Oxbow to the first wire-to-wire win at the Preakness since Aloma's Ruler did so in 1982.
Below is a look at the current field of 10 horses for the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes, as well as predictions for every single horse and a breakdown of the horses predicted to finish in the money.
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Show: Kid Cruz
Even though Kid Cruz isn't one of the clear favorites in this year's Preakness, the colt looks ready to finish in the money in this Triple Crown race.
Kid Cruz got off to a slow start in his first ever race, finishing in seventh. But the horse has turned things around since, winning three of his four races and finishing in second in the other. In March, Kid Cruz was in dead last at Laurel Park but rallied all the way back to the front of the pack to win the Private Terms Stakes.
Just over a month later, Kid Cruz won his second consecutive race, taking home the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico. With a second straight race at this track, Kid Cruz appears to be settling in as he prepares for Saturday's big race.
“He’s fine, doing well and has settled into his new surroundings well,” Kid Cruz's trainer Linda Rice told WBAL Baltimore.”Everything’s been pretty routine.”
While the weather should be fine on Saturday, heavy rain on Friday could make for a less than fast track at Pimlico for the race (h/t Weather.com). That could slow things down and open things up for other horses, giving a contender like Kid Cruz a chance to finish in the money.
Place: California Chrome
All eyes will be on defending Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, and while fans are hoping to see a potential Triple Crown winner, the competition may make it difficult for this horse to end the 36-year drought.
Where will California Chrome finish?
Still, it's been hard to deny what California Chrome has done since December. With five straight wins, he's looked almost unstoppable, dominating the competition race after race. Before winning the Kentucky Derby, California Chrome won his previous three races by a combined 18 lengths.
However, winning streaks don't last forever, and California Chrome's could end on Saturday. The Preakness has the shortest track of the Triple Crown races, making endurance less of a factor with the fastest horses gaining an edge.
That's not exactly good news for California Chrome. According to Eric Crawford from WDRB in Louisville, the colt's winning time at Churchill Downs was the slowest on a fast track in 40 years.
California Chrome’s winning time of 2:03.66 was the slowest on a fast track in the Derby since Cannonade in 1974.— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) May 3, 2014
I still expect California Chrome to be near the front, but given the speed of another certain horse in this race, I think that the defending Kentucky Derby winner will finish just behind the leader on Saturday.
Winner: Social Inclusion
Speed will be key in this year's race, and while Social Inclusion doesn't have a ton of racing experience so far, he has a real shot to win the 139th running of the Preakness.
Social Inclusion has been in just three races so far, but he's won two of them and finished in third in the other. He came out of nowhere in a field of eight maidens back in February, winning by 7 1/2 lengths. In his next race, Social Inclusion dominated at Gulfstream, posting a 10-length victory and a time of one minute, 40.97 seconds, which was a track record.
Owner Ron Sanchez seems to have a lot of confidence in his horse and even believes he'll be able to beat California Chrome, according to Jerry Bossert from the New York Daily News, saying:
"He’s (California Chrome) a nice horse, nice horse. He won easily last time in the Derby but I think we have a chance to beat him. We have a shot. But I still have a lot of respect for California Chrome. He proved he’s an outstanding horse and you have to respect that."
A short track should help Social Inclusion, and with his breakaway speed, I expect him to get in front early and come away with the victory.