California Chrome will seek out the second jewel of the Triple Crown Saturday after dominating the Kentucky Derby, but nine elite challengers will have an opportunity to usurp him in the Preakness Stakes.
As great as California Chrome proved to be at Churchill Downs, there will be a great deal of pressure on him and jockey Victor Espinoza to perform. California Chrome seemingly has the best opportunity of anyone in quite some time to end the Triple Crown drought. However, it won't be easy.
Here is a complete breakdown of all the details you need to know about the Preakness along with a closer look at some of the top contenders.
Where: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore
Post Time: Saturday, May 17 at 6:18 p.m. ET
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Mark Casse||12-1|
|2||General a Rod||Javier Castellano||Mike Maker||15-1|
|3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||3-5|
|4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||Graham Motion||20-1|
|5||Bayern||Gary Stevens||Bob Baffert||10-1|
|6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||Tom Amoss||30-1|
|7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||Linda Rice||20-1|
|8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||Manuel Azpurua||5-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||20-1|
|10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||Billy Gowan||10-1|
*Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com as of Saturday, May 17 at 7 a.m. ET
Top Horses to Watch
In the wake of such a strong showing in the Kentucky Derby, it doesn't come as much of a surprise to see California Chrome as a heavy favorite. He was touted as the top horse entering the Derby, and he certainly didn't disappoint. California Chrome was clearly the class of the field on that day, and he should be once again on Saturday barring a terrible trip or an out-of-this-world performance from another horse.
All eyes are constantly on a horse the caliber of California Chrome, which has led some people to jump to conclusions. The prodigious colt developed a cough Thursday, and questions started to swirl about his health. Claire Novak of BloodHorse.com dismissed it as a natural occurrence:
Don't think there's much truth to rumors of California Chrome getting sick. "Cough" was more like throat clearing after am training.— Claire Novak (@BH_CNovak) May 15, 2014
Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form later got word from California Chrome's camp that it was much ado about nothing:
Asst Alan Sherman says California Chrome perfect, says "throat is fine," adds "don't know why it got blown out of proportion." #Preakness— Jay Privman (@DRFPrivman) May 16, 2014
If California Chrome is in perfectly fine health as suggested, then it will be incredibly difficult for any other horse to knock him off. He has five consecutive victories to his credit, and all of them have come in convincing fashion.
California Chrome had no issue handling 10 furlongs at the Kentucky Derby, so 9.5 furlongs won't cause him much of a problem at Pimlico, either. Unless Espinoza really messes up and puts California Chrome in poor positioning on the track, this is his race to win.
Although Social Inclusion is the least experienced of any horse in the Preakness field, he looks to be the biggest obstacle standing between California Chrome and the second leg of the Triple Crown. Social Inclusion hasn't run since finishing third in the Wood Memorial in early April, and he only has three races under his belt in all.
Social Inclusion has won impressively on two occasions, but he has never run 9.5 furlongs, which could potentially cause a problem at Pimlico. One person who isn't concerned, though, is jockey Luis Contreras. According to HRRN, Contreras believes that Social Inclusion will be able to handle the grind and improve in the latter stages of the race:
Contreras: Social Inclusion very powerful, think he can run all day long. Further the race the better he's going to run.— HRRN (@HRRN) May 10, 2014
If he is going to defeat California Chrome, then Contreras' hunch must come to fruition. The fact that Social Inclusion hasn't run in about six weeks could prove advantageous since he will be fresher than the bulk of the field, but there is also the possibility that he will be a bit rusty.
There is no way of knowing how Social Inclusion will handle the layoff until the race begins, but he certainly has the talent to shock California Chrome if he is on his game.
Which horse is most likely to win the Preakness Stakes?
Ride On Curlin
Ride On Curlin entered the Kentucky Derby as one of California Chrome's top competitors, but things never really materialized. The colt started on the far outside, which prompted jockey Calvin Borel to drop way back in an effort to get toward the rail. Although Ride On Curlin was able to make up some ground late, he ultimately finished a disappointing seventh.
Trainer Billy Gowan has made a jockey change to Joel Rosario in hopes that a different vision and strategy will make Ride On Curlin a true factor at Pimlico. Ride On Curlin has all the tools necessary to be in the mix, and Privman has been impressed by his pre-race work leading up to the Preakness:
I thought Ride On Curlin's work today here at Pimlico looked a lot sharper than his final work before the Derby. #Preakness— Jay Privman (@DRFPrivman) May 14, 2014
The race itself is obviously a totally different animal, but the fact that only 10 horses are running as opposed to 19 should be beneficial in terms of avoiding traffic. In the event of a clean trip, it wouldn't be at all shocking to see Ride On Curlin giving California Chrome a run for his money down the stretch.
While Ride On Curlin hasn't been the best closer, with no wins since January, the talent is definitely there to make things difficult for the Kentucky Derby winner.
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