The 2014 Preakness Stakes is set to take place on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, and the field of 10 horses provides plenty of talking points.
First, foremost and taking up most of the spotlight is California Chrome and his quest for the world's first Triple Crown since 1978. The Art Sherman-trained colt won the Kentucky Derby in runaway fashion after being heralded as a huge favorite, only increasing his Triple Crown hype heading into a Preakness he's also widely favored in.
There's plenty more, so let's dive in and take a look at the entire lineup as well as a breakdown of the top horses in the field.
|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|
Note: All information courtesy of Preakness.com unless otherwise noted
After a minor, yet headline-making health issue at Pimlico on Thursday, it's all thumbs up for California Chrome in his quest to continue his Triple Crown bid.
The Derby-winning colt was checked out for a cough, but trainer Art Sherman was quick to say the horse was "fine" and re-assured he will be alright to race at top condition Saturday, per Preakness.com.
With that out of the way, next up for Sherman and California Chrome is attacking the field of nine horses vying to take away his chances of making history.
With Bayern, Ride on Curlin, Social Inclusion and more speedsters in the field, Sherman spoke on the difficulties ahead and how well suited his Derby winner is to deal with them, per Preakness.com:
“I think there is a going to be a different scenario of the race,” Art Sherman said. “It looks like there is going to be some legitimate speed, but don’t underestimate this horse. He’s been head and head with horses in :09 (1:09) and change and did draw off and he did do a mile in 1:33 and change. He can go with the best, I think. He’s proven it. He’s kind of like push-button. You don’t have to be on the lead, but when you ask him to run he’s going to give you a burst coming down the lane.”
Sherman is certainly right about his horse—he can turn it on when needed. With runaway victories in each of his four races coming into Churchill Downs and doing the same there, he's proven it time and time again.
Pimlico will be a unique test for the group with a short turnaround, but California Chrome's recent form indicates that shouldn't be too much of a problem. If he runs anything like he has in his last five appearances, Sherman and company will be moving one race away from the elusive Triple Crown.
Ride on Curlin
Ride on Curlin enters the Preakness looking to find some redemption in the form of an appearance in the winner's circle.
A seventh-place finish at the Kentucky Derby wasn't what trainer William Gowan had in mind, but all signs at Pimlico point toward a much-improved colt heading into the Triple Crown's second leg.
Daily Racing Form Derby tweeted quite a positive reaction from Gowan to describe Ride on Curlin's preparations:
Calvin Borel was replaced as Ride on Curlin's jockey heading into the Preakness, as he's racing Ria Antonia on Saturday. On the mount for Gowan and company will be up-and-comer Joel Rosario, who rode Orb to the 2013 Kentucky Derby win before losing to Oxbow at the Preakness.
Rosario will be looking to make amends for his performance at Pimlico last year, while Ride on Curlin will be hoping to move on from his poor performance at Churchill Downs. This horse has all the storyline makings for an upset victory.