A short track at the 2014 Preakness Stakes will mean that any horse that keeps up with the pack will have a good chance at winning at Pimlico Race Course, but all eyes will be on the horses with the best odds on Saturday.
Couple that short track with the small field of 10 horses, and it makes for even more excitement. Given that the field is so small, horses likely won't have to come from way outside to make a run at the end of the race. Each horse should be in it right from the opening stretch.
That said, the field odds reflect the expected finishes of the competitors. California Chrome is the consensus favorite after a dominating display at the 2014 Kentucky Derby, but it'll now be up to jockey Victor Espinoza to complete the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Will he do it?
Below you'll find my race predictions, along with the final field odds heading into the 2014 Preakness.
|2||General a Rod||15-1||7th|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||20-1||10th|
|10||Ride On Curlin||10-1||6th|
HRTV, Official Preakness Odds
Don't let Ria Antonia's 30-1 odds fool you; she is a competitor at the Preakness. If nothing else, you could say she's a favorite because of the history surrounding the No. 6 post, via Daily Racing Form's official Twitter account:
Since 1909 (first year stats available), including split race in 1918, post 6 winningest #Preakness post w/ 16 winners.— DRF Derby (@DRFDerby) May 14, 2014
The odds of Ria Antonia suggest that she's pegged to finish somewhere toward the back of the pack. That couldn't be more inaccurate. The No. 6 post seems to favor success, and the fact that jockey Calvin Borel will be riding the filly seems to indicate that the duo will finish highly—possibly even with a money-winning finish.
Borel is a talented jockey, and his confidence in Ria Antonia's chances should tell us that this filly has a shot, via Kentucky Derby Contenders' Twitter account:
Ria Antonia jock Borel: "There are no outstanding horses other than California Chrome. If we can find a hole, we’ve got a shot.”— KY Derby Contenders (@DerbyContenders) May 14, 2014
Sure, if the tandem can find a hole, they'll have a shot. But what type of hole should we expect to see running against California Chrome? Chrome and Espinoza dominated the Kentucky Derby. Ria Antonia and Borel will need a flawless run in order to even compete with the Derby winner.
Ride On Curlin
There are high expectations for Ride On Curlin, as the horse's seventh-place finish at the Kentucky Derby left much to be desired. Churchill Downs wasn't kind to the son of legendary horse Curlin, but Pimlico should bring more success.
Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman suggested on Twitter that Ride On Curlin was looking much better heading into the Preakness than he did heading into the Derby, so we'll have to see if this preparation impacts the final outcome:
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
Ride On Curlin drew an outside post at No. 10, but that should not discourage bettors. Trainer Billy Gowan certainly isn't concerned, per The Associated Press, via USA Today: "It's OK, I'm an outsider anyhow. I don't think it's bad here. With the kind of pace we have in the field, I think it's fine. He's a tough horse and he can take a lot of work. He moves good over this track."
On Wednesday, Ride On Curlin posted 49.60 seconds in a half-mile workout at Pimlico—the fastest at that distance. Don't count him out on Saturday.
It's hard to pick against the Kentucky Derby winner and consensus favorite.
There are multiple reasons why California Chrome should be considered both a favorite in this race and a favorite to win the Triple Crown, but it really all comes down to jockey Victor Espinoza. Sure, Chrome is both fast and smart on his own, but Espinoza's leadership makes this tandem tough to beat.
He knows how to handle a horse during a race. He held Chrome back brilliantly in the Derby until the final portion of the race. At that point, Chrome barreled through the competition and had a five-length lead before pulling back and winning by just about two lengths.
Chrome's ability to maintain speed, led by Espinoza's knowledge of racing, will be crucial in winning the Preakness.