If the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports, then the Preakness Stakes is the most exciting one minute and 50 seconds.
That is especially the case this year, as California Chrome continues his pursuit of the first Triple Crown since 1978. If he is going to do so, he will have to emerge from the No. 3 post position and outpace the rest of the 10-horse field.
Here is a look at the post positions for every one of the competitors:
|2||General a Rod|
|9||Pablo Del Monte|
|10||Ride On Curlin|
Of particular interest to many of those who will tune in are the odds. The Preakness Stakes odds come via Odds Shark, as of Friday, May 16:
|General a Rod||15-1|
|Pablo Del Monte||20-1|
|Ride On Curlin||10-1|
There is also a full undercard of races as well, and the complete field outlook for those events can be found at the Preakness’ official website.
The 113th running of the Dixie Stakes is the highlight of that undercard, and Hey LeRoy is the 5-2 favorite, per Preakness.com.
Hey LeRoy’s owner Ron Sanchez discussed the race and his expectations, via Preakness.com:
We’re expecting him to win. He’s been training well and we have the best rider in Javier Castellano. He loves the grass and his numbers are pretty good. If everything goes as we plan, we think we have a shot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Hey LeRoy will have to contend with Up With the Birds (5-1 on Preakness.com) and local favorite Sagamore Farms (12-1 on Preakness.com) if he wants to win the $400,000 Dixie Stakes, which is much easier said than done.
Of course, the actual Preakness is the headlining event of the day, and the primary storyline to watch is California Chrome against the rest of the field.
Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated paints a scary picture for the rest of the competitors leading up to the race:
Just talked w/Victor Espinoza. He said California Chrome really didn't like Churchill track. Imagine if he did. Scary.— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) May 13, 2014
California Chrome comes into the Preakness with five straight wins and only has to beat out nine other horses to stretch that streak to six.
Among the most dangerous challengers are the speedy Social Inclusion, Ride On Curlin and Bayern. Bayern will be jockeyed by Rosie Napravnik, who is trying to become the first female jockey to win the Preakness title.
While these competitors will certainly test California Chrome, he is becoming a rock star in the sport for a reason. He could be on the way to the first Triple Crown since 1978, but he has to get out of the gate quickly if he hopes to do so.
California Chrome hung with the pack for most of the Kentucky Derby and flashed his closing speed at the end, but he may not have that luxury at the Preakness from the No. 3 post. He will have to avoid getting caught on the rail as one of the inside horses in order to give himself a chance to blow away the rest of the field in the stretch run.
Look for Victor Espinoza, who certainly understands the dimensions of the short track in Baltimore since he already has a Preakness title on his resume, to ride California Chrome hard out of the gate.
It will lead to a victory and more attention than the sport has seen in quite some time.
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