The 2014 Preakness Stakes is the highlight of this weekend's events at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, but there are some compelling undercard events as well.
Outside of the main event, the undercard to watch this year is the always competitive Longines Dixie Stakes. This year will be the 113th running of the event. There is a strong field racing for the $400,000 purse, though only one horse and jockey will show enough to win the 1 1/16-mile race.
Here is the full lineup for the race, which kicks off at 5:25 p.m. on May 17:
|2014 Longines Dixie Stakes Post Positions|
|1||Fredericksburg||L. Saez||M R Matz|
|2||Nutello||T. McCarthy||H G Motion|
|3||Charming Kitten||J.R. Velazquez||T A Pletcher|
|4||Roadhog||K. Carmouche||E M Merryman|
|5||Hamp||J. Santiago||I Correas IV|
|6||Hey Leroy||J. Castellano||M J Aspurua|
|7||Chamois||J. Bravo||C Clement|
|8||Up With the Birds||J. Rosario||M Pierce|
|9||Utley||E.S. Prado||J E Sheppard|
|10||Quick Wit||V. Espinoza||D L Romans|
One horse to watch at the Dixie is Up With the Birds, an older horse looking to make some noise in the lead-in to the main event. As the 2013 Canadian Horse of the Year, Up With the Birds should be considered a favorite, via Marty McGee of Daily Racing Form:
Up With the Birds, the 2013 Canadian Horse of the Year, is among 10 older horses in a competitive renewal of the Grade 2, $400,000 Dixie Stakes, the lead-in to the Preakness on a 13-race Saturday program at Pimlico.
Trained by Malcolm Pierce, Up With the Birds will be trying to rebound off a subpar effort last month at Keeneland in his only start so far this year.
Everyone will be watching the main event on Saturday, though. While the Dixie will be fun, it's the Preakness Stakes that draws the crowd. Below is the full lineup for the event, along with some analysis of what will surely be an exciting second leg of the Triple Crown.
|2014 Preakness Stakes Post Positions|
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Mark E. Casse|
|2||General A Rod||Javier Castellano||Mike Maker|
|3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman|
|4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||H. Graham Motion|
|5||Bayern||Rosie Napravnik||Bob Baffert|
|6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||Tom Amoss|
|7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||Linda Rice|
|8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||Manny Azpurua|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley A. Ward|
|10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||William Gowan|
California Chrome jockey Victor Espinoza has been in this position before.
Back in 2002, Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby with War Emblem and followed that up with a win at the Preakness Stakes. He knows how to handle races in big situations, and that's a big advantage for Chrome.
Chrome is a great horse on his own though, as proved by the 2014 Kentucky Derby. The horse showed off his ability to maintain speed, while also his ability to pick up speed in an instant when needed. AmericasBestRacing.net's Jose A. Contreras cites this, and other factors, when predicting that Chrome will head to New York's Belmont Stakes in search of the Triple Crown:
Espinoza will be crucial in the running, of course. In the Derby, Espinoza brilliantly held Chrome back early on. This conservative style allowed the horse to save up enough energy for a burst in the last portion of the race. This burst gave Chrome a five-length lead that Espinoza would pull back to about two lengths in order to ensure the horse's long-term safety and success.
Look for Chrome and Espinoza to show that same success off again on Saturday.
Social Inclusion has only three races under his belt, but those three races have all been successful. Inclusion won two of them and finished in the money in the third, with the most impressive race coming back in March at Gulfstream.
There, Inclusion won by an incredible 10 lengths and posted a 1:40:97, a track record.
Inclusion has no shortage of speed to burn. It'll be interesting to see if the horse sets the pace early on in the race before some of the more experienced horses look to make a move.
Trainer Manny Azpurua knows that the horse is capable of making some noise at the Preakness, according to Gary Mihoces of USA Today: "I expect so much of him, and maybe Saturday he can demonstrate what kind of horse he really is."
With an excess of speed to burn, Inclusion has to be considered a favorite on Saturday.
Bayern is another horse with extraordinary speed, something that should play well in the shorter course on Saturday. But just how fast is Bayern? Jay Privman from Daily Racing Form notes that Bayern "sizzled" in his preparations for the Preakness last week:
One of the bigger stories surrounding Bayern is Rosie Napravnik, the jockey who will be attempting to lead Bayern to success. She finished third in the Preakness last year while riding Mylute, but she'll be looking for even more this time around.
That third-place finish was the best for a woman in the history of the Preakness. Needless to say, more history could be made on Saturday. Bayern is an extremely fast horse, and Napravnik is a very talented jockey.
These two should combine for an exciting race.