Will the weather play a role in the second leg of the Triple Crown at the Preakness Stakes this weekend?
That's one of the major questions heading into Saturday evening, as California Chrome looks to dominate the smaller field and head into the Belmont Stakes with a chance at finally ending the Triple Crown drought. Will we have a muddy track this time around, or will the sprinter's delight that is the Preakness offer a fast track?
Let's find out.
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland
When: Saturday, May 17
Post Time: 6:18 p.m. ET
TV: NBC (coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. ET)
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Post||Horse||Jockey||Odds to Win||$2 Payout|
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||12-1||$26.00|
|2||General a Rod||Javier Castellano||15-1||$32.00|
|3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||3-5||$3.20|
|4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||20-1||$42.00|
|6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||30-1||$62.00|
|7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||20-1||$42.00|
|8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||5-1||$12.00|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||20-1||$42.00|
|10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||10-1||$22.00|
According to Weather.com, the forecast at post time calls for sunny skies, a temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, zero percent chance of precipitation and wind heading west-by-northwest at seven miles per hour.
The track should—and let's place extra emphasis on should—be pretty dry by then as well, despite rains hitting much of the East Coast well into Friday morning. The forecast in Baltimore on Friday called for cloudy skies but a low to zero percent chance of precipitation after 1 p.m. ET and into Saturday.
Alex Sosnowski of Accuweather.com has more:
Heavy rain has converged northern Maryland and Pimlico Race Course late this week, ahead of the 2014 Preakness Stakes.
A few hours are needed for the track to dry thoroughly after a heavy rain, according to officials of the Maryland Jockey Club.
The steadiest and heaviest rain fell on the track during Friday morning into the midday. As of 11 a.m. EDT Friday, between 1.50 and 2.00 inches of rain has fallen since midnight in the vicinity of the track at Pimlico.
Friday is Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico. Post time for the filly race is 4:47 p.m. EDT. Occasional light rain may linger from the middle of the afternoon to close to the start of the stakes race late in the day. Whether or not the track has a chance to dry thoroughly following the heavy rainfall is uncertain.
The hope will be that we have clear skies and a dry track on Saturday evening. That remains a probability, though not a guarantee.
In other words, the mudders will be crossing their fingers (or hooves).
One Rainy Wish
So if the track at Pimlico does remain soggy, which horses benefit?
Prohibitive favorite California Chrome would probably prefer a dry track, even if chrome is generally safe from rusting. The Kentucky Derby winner has excellent top speed and would likely prefer a faster pace at the shorter Pimlico track as opposed to a slower, slushy track that kept the late closers within striking distance.
Still, California Chrome is easily the most talented horse in this field and should be able to overcome any conditions. And while the horse caused concerns with a small throat blister earlier in the week, Sherman Racing Stables said the horse is just fine, via Claire Novak of Blood-Horse Publications:
Report from @ShermanRacing on California Chrome: The horse is completely fine. He does have a small blister in his throat (cont)— Claire Novak (@BH_CNovak) May 15, 2014
(cont) they scoped him, also had blood drawn, vet said blood came back perfect. Blister may itch & caused him to cough a few times (cont)— Claire Novak (@BH_CNovak) May 15, 2014
(cont) but the horse is fine, blister a minor issue that is not going to affect his race at all. Vet said nothing else going on. (end)— Claire Novak (@BH_CNovak) May 15, 2014
To be honest, most of the horses in the Preakness are sprinters and horses that like to start strong, so it doesn't appear a sloppy track would particularly benefit any one horse in particular.
Kid Cruz enjoys coming from behind toward the end of the race, so a muddy track might keep him closer to the field before he makes his move. Ride on Curlin likes to stalk the lead group before kicking in his speed, so he's another that might prefer a sloppy track.
But in general, there doesn't seem to be a horse in particular that will really be salivating for a muddy track. And the chances of such a track seem pretty low anyway. Expect a fast, exciting race.