There will be plenty of action for horse racing fans to take in on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, but none more buzz-worthy than the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the 2014 Preakness Stakes.
Headlined by Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, the 10-horse field features a slew of dark-horse contenders and is sure to produce a thrilling result one way or another.
Below, you'll find a breakdown of Saturday's race schedule as well as the lineup for the 139th Preakness Stakes.
Date: Saturday, May 17
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore
Post Time: 6:18 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Post Time (ET)||Event||Purse|
|11:18 a.m.||Deputed Testamony Starter Handicap||$40,000|
|11:53 a.m.||Xpressbet Purse||$55,000|
|12:30 p.m.||LifeBridge Health Good Neighbors Race||$55,000|
|1:09 p.m.||Maryland Sprint Handicap||$150,000|
|1:50 p.m.||The Very One Stakes||$100,000|
|2:33 p.m.||Chick Lang Stakes||$100,000|
|3:14 p.m.||James W. Murphy Stakes||$100,000|
|4:04 p.m.||Gallorette Handicap||$150,000|
|4:45 p.m.||Sir Barton Stakes||$100,000|
|5:25 p.m.||Dixie Stakes||$400,000|
|6:18 p.m.||Preakness Stakes||$1,500,000|
Click here to view undercard lineups via Preakness.com.
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Mark E. 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||H. Graham Motion||20-1|
|5||Bayern||Rosie Napravnik||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||Manny Azpurua||5-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley A. Ward||20-1|
|10||Ride on Curlin||Joel Rosario||William Gowan||10-1|
There are 13 races in all scheduled for Saturday, but the 12th is the most significant by far, with California Chrome on pace to become the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown.
Although Art Sherman's California-bred colt is only one-third of the way there, he can take a huge step toward the history books with another dominant performance this weekend. If there's a case to be made for California Chrome, it's an easy one.
He's won each of his last five races and ran away from the Derby field at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, completing the 10 furlongs comfortably.
What's more, while he'll face some familiar foes, the competition on Saturday doesn't project to trouble California Chrome at a distance of 9.5 furlongs (1 3/16 miles). The second-biggest favorite when the morning-line odds came out following Wednesday's post draw was Social Inclusion, a horse with only three career starts that finished third in his one big test at the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes last month.
And only two other Derby horses (Ride on Curlin and General a Rod) will compete this weekend.
Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde breaks down the weak field California Chrome will contend with:
California Chrome has won three graded stakes races in a row, by a combined 14¼ lengths. The other nine horses in the field have combined to win two graded stakes races – Dynamic Impact in the Illinois Derby last month and Ring Weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby in early March. Winners of major 3-year-old spring races like the Arkansas Derby, Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes and Florida Derby are all sitting this one out.
On the flip side, we've seen favorites fade at Pimlico in the past, including 2013's Orb, who finished fourth despite starting as a 3-5 favorite to win.
Orb ran from post No. 1, closest to the rail, and was never able to mount much of a challenge. While California Chrome will run from the third post, there's no guarantee he'll start cleanly and avoid getting caught up in an early sprint with the speedsters around him, as noted by Sherman, via Kentucky Derby Contenders on Twitter:
Cal Chrome's Art Sherman on #Preakness: “It looks like there is going to be some legitimate speed, but don’t underestimate this horse."— KY Derby Contenders (@DerbyContenders) May 15, 2014
Plus, a Preakness Stakes winner hasn't run from the third post since Prairie Bayou in 1993.
However, co-owner Steve Coburn isn't at all concerned by California Chrome's post draw, per The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker:
I’m great with No. 3. If he holds his position, I think we got this pretty well sewed up here...It is a dream coming true. I knew this horse would win the Kentucky Derby. And I’ve got a strong feeling he’s going to win the Preakness. I’ve got something within me that I feel, and I can’t explain it.
Despite post No. 3 having failed to yield a winner over the past 20 years, you could argue that California Chrome is set to end the drought, as six different winners ran from the third post from 1973 to 1988, including 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat.
Behind California Chrome, Social Inclusion, Bayern and Ride on Curlin appear to be the biggest threats to take Saturday's marquee event.
Ride on Curlin finished seventh at the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago but will be ridden by a different jockey (Joel Rosario takes over for Calvin Borel) and will start on the outside from post No. 10. Meanwhile, Bayern didn't run at the Derby and finished third behind Danza and Ride on Curlin in his toughest test to date at last month's Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.
Therefore, it's no wonder why the California Chrome bandwagon is filling up fast.
Although the pressure will only intensify as we draw closer to post time, there's a reason California Chrome has won five consecutive starts by multiple lengths and was talked about as a legitimate Triple Crown contender coming into May. This is a horse with the potential to end the 36-year Triple Crown drought and will likely become the second in three years to win the first two legs this weekend.
With a string of encouraging results under his belt and a weak field to contend with, the Preakness Stakes and the 2014 Triple Crown are seemingly California Chrome's to lose at this point.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.