Now that the 10 contenders have official post positions for the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes, it becomes easier to make field predictions based on a variety of information.
Post positions are a large part of any horse racing prediction. If a horse lands too far outside and can't keep pace, things are over rather quickly. A horse too inside may get lost in the heavy traffic without a quick opening burst.
These factors will play a role on Saturday, even if the field is smaller than the Kentucky Derby that came before it. Add in other info such as horse and jockey history, and the world's biggest educated guess gets a bit easier to decipher.
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)
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Projected Finish||Post||Horse||Jockey||Odds to Win|
|1||3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||3-5|
|2||10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||10-1|
|3||6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||30-1|
|5||1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||12-1|
|6||2||General A Rod||Javier Castellano||15-1|
|7||8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||5-1|
|8||4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||20-1|
|9||7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||20-1|
|10||9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||20-1|
Odds via Preakness.com
Sometimes the boring call is the correct one.
Detractors have plenty of reasons to say California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza will not come away with the win on Saturday, and point to the Derby time and an alleged health issue as why.
One—California Chrome has won five races in a row. Yes, the finish time at Churchill Downs was slower than years prior, but the entire field was slower this time around and Espinoza actually eased up with the victory in hand.
The health issue? A cough.
Bettors awoke Thursday morning to see the world ablaze with chatter about a cough from California Chrome after a practice run. But, as Jennie Rees of The Courier-Journal in Louisville details, the overreactions were just that:
#californiachrome has small blister in throat causing occasional cough; vet says won't impact in any way— Jennie Rees (@CJ_Jennie) May 15, 2014
So no, California Chrome's chances on Saturday are not hurt. For those savvy bettors, don't expect the odds to get any better payoutwise, either.
Espinoza is part of that—he's a decorated jockey who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes atop War Emblem in 2002 and has some of California Chrome's notable recent wins under his belt.
Ride On Curlin and jockey Joel Rosario are another tandem to watch, especially considering they can challenge for the top spot. It was legendary jockey Calvin Borel who rode Ride On Curlin to a seventh-place finish during the Kentucky Derby, but a switch was made for the Preakness, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
This time Ride On Curlin comes out of the No. 10 post and can pick and choose the spot of attack before kicking into gear. As Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form muses, the horse has looked much better on the approach this time around:
Will California Chrome win the Preakness?
That's a far cry from how many viewed Ride On Curlin entering the Derby, so a strong performance in a smaller field seems likely.
Want a sleeper likely to crack the top three? Look no further than Ria Antonia and jockey Borel.
Ria Antonia has a tough hill to climb during the race—the popular storyline sweeping the globe concerns her being the only female contestant, rather than the real story—because she has lost her last three races.
That lack of momentum can surely be countered by a jockey of Borel's skill.
Borel is a Hall of Famer who has won the Kentucky Derby three times since 2007 and is known for getting the most out of his horses. Ria Antonia trainer Tom Amoss spoke about why he picked Borel, via Rees:
Both Ron and I wanted to put someone on Ria who would have an opportunity to work her, and feel good about her after the work. I know Calvin's confidence is very strong after that work. And that's what I like – a rider who buckles his chin strap and says, 'I'm going to win this race,' and I know that's how Calvin feels.
The odds are a bit strange here, but recent success does play a major part. As does the history of the post position, which is quite favorable considering the sixth spot has generated the most winners in Preakness history.
Don't count out Ria Antonia, as Borel can take advantage of a small field from a great post position.