The Preakness may not be as prestigious or famous as the Kentucky Derby, but there is certainly an elevated interest level for the 2014 edition thanks to the presence of budding horse racing superstar California Chrome.
California Chrome has all the looks of a potential Triple Crown contender and comes to Baltimore riding a hot streak.
Here is a glance at everywhere you can watch California Chrome and the rest of the challengers Saturday.
139th Preakness Stakes
When: Saturday, May 17
Where: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland
Time: Broadcast begins at 4:30 p.m. ET
Post Time: 6:18 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Storyline to Watch: California Chrome vs. Everyone Else
There are only 10 horses in this year’s Preakness, which means California Chrome will not have to beat nearly as many contenders as he did at Churchill Downs.
Still, the question, much like it was in golf when Tiger Woods was in his prime, is: the favorite or the field? One thing that may work against California Chrome’s chances is the fact that he drew the No. 3 post, which hasn’t produced a Preakness winner since 1993. SportingCharts doesn’t exactly paint a rosy picture for the No. 3 post either:
However, trainer Art Sherman didn’t seemed fazed by it, per the Associated Press, via Sports Illustrated: “Three is fine with me. Most of the speed is on the outside of me. If they go, they go. I can tuck in right behind them without any problems. I think my horse will perform.”
If California Chrome is as dominant as he has been lately, the post position won’t be an issue.
He is riding a five-race winning streak by a combined 26 lengths. Of course, the Kentucky Derby was part of that stretch, which is why there is so much Triple Crown excitement in the first place.
Social Inclusion, who did not race at Churchill Downs, may be the biggest challenger, and he drew the more favorable No. 8 post.
It is also worth keeping an eye on Bayern and Ride On Curlin. Rosie Napravnik will try to become the first female jockey to win the Preakness aboard Bayern. Ride On Curlin disappointed at the Derby, but he is one of the fastest horses in the sport.
The key against these competitors for California Chrome may just be the start.
California Chrome stayed close to the middle of the pack in Churchill Downs and broke free at the end. However, he will have to come out of the gate stronger in the Preakness with one of the inside positions to avoid being trapped against the rail. Plus, Pimlico is a shorter track than Churchill Downs, so there simply isn’t as much space to rely on his closing burst that won the Derby.
Victor Espinoza knows this is the case and will ride California Chrome much harder from the start than he did during the Kentucky Derby. As long as he doesn’t get trapped on the rail, he will use that closing speed to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Get ready for nonstop horse racing coverage leading up to Belmont Stakes if that does happen.
Follow me on Twitter: