The full lineup for the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes is set, and there are some clear favorites along with some not-so-clear sleepers that will have a shot to win on Saturday.
At just 9.5 furlongs, the Preakness is the shortest of the Triple Crown races, giving faster horses an edge over those that rely on endurance. This year's track might not be as fast, however, as heavy rain is expected on Friday, according to Weather.com, potentially softening the track for Saturday.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the full lineup for Saturday's race, followed by a breakdown of a couple of favorites and sleepers that could grab a win at Pimlico Race Course.
|2014 Preakness Lineup|
|1||Dynamic Impact||Mark E. Casse||Miguel Mena||12-1|
|2||General a Rod||Mike Maker||Javier Castellano||15-1|
|3||California Chrome||Art Sherman||Victor Espinoza||3-5|
|4||Ring Weekend||H. Graham Motion||Alan Garcia||20-1|
|5||Bayern||Bob Baffert||Rosie Napravnik||10-1|
|6||Ria Antonia||Tom Amoss||Calvin Borel||30-1|
|7||Kid Cruz||Linda Rice||Julian Pimentel||20-1|
|8||Social Inclusion||Manny Azpurua||Luis Contreras||5-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Wesley A. Ward||Jeffrey Sanchez||20-1|
|10||Ride On Curlin||William Gowan||Joel Rosario||10-1|
The winner of the Kentucky Derby is usually one of the favorites heading into the Preakness, but that's not the only reason people are expecting big things from California Chrome on Saturday.
California Chrome has been incredibly dominant since December, winning five straight races. Before winning the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths, his three previous wins came by a combined 18 lengths, showing just how dominant he can be.
The biggest concern for California Chrome heading into the Preakness is that he may struggle to keep up with some of the faster horses in this race. According to Eric Crawford from WDRB in Louisville, California Chrome's winning time at Churchill Downs was the slowest on a fast track in 40 years.
Fans are hoping that California Chrome can be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, and while he's the favorite for this year's race, it's no guarantee that he'll win.
Since bursting onto the scene in February, Social Inclusion has looked like one of the top contenders for the short Preakness track due to his impressive speed, and trainer Manny Azpurua is hoping that that speed will help him grab a big victory.
Social Inclusion turned heads in his debut in a field of eight maidens back in February, winning by 7 1/2 lengths. Less than a month later, he dominated the competition at Gulfstream, winning by 10 lengths and setting a track record at 1:40.97.
With some breakaway speed, a lot of people feel confident that Social Inclusion could grab a win at the Preakness, including his owner, Ron Sanchez. He told Jennie Rees of USA Today:
Probably everybody thinks there's going to be a lot of speed and then they try to stalk. But it wasn't a good decision. We'll have a lot of speed here, I'm sure. I'm really sure. We'll take the lead, or at least be 1-2-3. No farther back than that. It wouldn't make any sense. This is a horse with speed, and you have to use it.
Considering how confident his owner is, no one should be surprised if Social Inclusion is near the front of the pack by the end of the race.
General a Rod
One of the horses looking to turn things around after a disappointing show at the Kentucky Derby is General a Rod, and the shorter track should help him out quite a bit.
General a Rod finished 11th at the Kentucky Derby, but before that, he had finished on the board in all five of his races, including two wins and two second-place finishes.
The biggest advantage General a Rod will have is his jockey, Javier Castellano, who was the leading jockey in North America with 362 wins in 2013, winning the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey. Castellano also has experience at the Preakness, winning in 2006 with Bernardini.
The shorter track should help General a Rod turn things around, and while there's a lot of tough competition, an experienced jockey like Castellano gives him a chance at winning.
It may have taken him five tries to break his maiden, but Dynamic Impact looks like he's finally hitting his stride at the right time.
After finally winning at Oaklawn Park in March with jockey Miguel Mena riding him, Dynamic Impact was able to come back seven weeks later and win the Illinois Derby by a neck in a field of eight.
After drawing the No. 1 post, it will be a challenge for Dynamic Impact working on the inside, according to Mena.
“He’s a fighter, but he doesn’t like to be inside," Mena told WBAL in Baltimore. "At the half-mile pole (in the Illinois Derby), I was able to pull him out (from the rail) and he found another gear. He fought so hard until he got the job done.”
The odds aren't great for Dynamic Impact, but a quick start out of the gate could help him a lot on the inside.