The 139th edition of the Preakness Stakes is all set for Saturday afternoon, and everyone tuned in to the anticipated affair will be looking to see if any thoroughbred in the field has a chance at beating out odds-on favorite California Chrome for the top prize.
Some horses have longer odds than others, but none comes close to the 3-5 odds placed on a California Chrome victory. There is still plenty at stake, as the top-five finishers will be guaranteed a portion of the $1.5 million purse set to be doled out at the Pimlico Race Course, as per TheTripleCrown.com.
It may prove to be too difficult to catch California Chrome, but all the owners will be optimistic about their horse's chances at bringing in some of the prize money.
Here are the latest odds heading into the race.
|2||General a Rod||15-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||20-1|
|10||Ride on Curlin||10-1|
With the odds in mind, let's predict which horses will finish in the money on Saturday in Baltimore, Maryland.
No controversial outcomes here. There is very little reason to suspect that California Chrome won't blow away the competition. 3-5 odds are a rare sight in high-stakes horse racing, and Chrome has enough power to get a late burst and fend off any challengers.
Everything has been going smoothly for California Chrome in the buildup to the Preakness, although Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden relayed via Twitter there is a minor hiccup in California Chrome's overall health:
California Chrome trainers certain he has just little throat blister. But he hasn't been scoped in almost 2 weeks, so that's educated guess— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) May 16, 2014
It's something to take note of, but this problem should do very little to distract California Chrome and his team from winning it all at Pimlico.
Social Inclusion is the best new shooter with a chance of overtaking California Chrome and has the speed to take second place if he runs a strong race.
Owner Ron Sanchez doesn't foresee his horse lurking near the back of the pack during the race. He will look for Social Inclusion to move into the top three as early as possible to push the pace. Via Jennie Rees of USA Today:
"We'll take the lead, or at least be 1-2-3. No farther back than that. It wouldn't make any sense. This is a horse with speed, and you have to use it," said Sanchez.
One horse guaranteed to outperform her long odds is Ria Antonia. She is the only filly in the event but will ride out of a comfortable No. 6 post and is working with esteemed jockey Calvin Borel. The Hall of Fame jockey rode to Preakness glory in 2009 on a filly named Rachel Alexandra. It was the first time a filly had won the Preakness since 1924 and just the fifth time overall.
Claire Novak of BloodHorse.com professes to be a big fan of Ria Antonia and tips her for Preakness success.
Controversial comment alert: I'm a huge fan of Ria Antonia, hope she runs well, and wouldn't be surprised if she hits the #Preakness board.— Claire Novak (@BH_CNovak) May 13, 2014
Ria Antonia won't catch California Chrome, but she definitely won't be in dead last either. If Borel can make a move to the inside early enough, look for Ria Antonia to shock onlookers and snatch a third- or fourth-place finish.
Bayern, working with celebrated trainer Bob Baffert, should make a big move toward the front from his No. 5 post. Considered one of the fastest horses in the race alongside California Chrome and Social Inclusion, Bayern raced well in the Grade 3 Derby Trial in April but was bumped out of first place due to disqualification.
Swinging in from the outside will be Ride on Curlin, who despite the No. 10 post has a good chance at a fifth-place finish and picking up the dregs of the lucrative Preakness purse.
Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman thinks Ride On Curlin looks much better heading into the Preakness than he did at the Kentucky Derby, where he finished in seventh place after starting from the No. 19 post.
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
Which of these horses is the most likely to finish outside of the money (top five)?
California Chrome has encountered unbelievable hype on the way to the Preakness Stakes and is likely to live up to the expectations. The small Preakness field doesn't leave enough to chance in this race. No horse looks as good as California Chrome in the buildup to the race.
It should also be noted that horses who race in the Derby tend to perform well in the Preakness. This bodes well for California Chrome, General a Rod and Ride on Curlin. However, General a Rod will have a much tougher time sandwiched in the No. 2 post between California Chrome and Dynamic Impact, another very strong thoroughbred with a chance at a top-five finish.
Odds updated as of Friday, May 16.