After an exciting start to the Triple Crown at the Kentucky Derby, the action will continue with the 2014 Preakness Stakes.
California Chrome earned the win at Churchill Downs after coming in as the overwhelming favorite. He remained near the front of the pack for the majority of the race before pulling away in the final stretch.
However, there is a new field at Pimlico, including seven thoroughbreds that were not at the Kentucky Derby. This is certain to make Preakness a thrilling battle from start to finish, as everyone wants to know if we can see the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
Here is a look at the complete field with a breakdown of the favorites.
|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|
While Bayern does not have an impressive resume of victories, he has plenty of raw talent that has been on display in past events. The horse took third at the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby before getting second in the Derby Trial Stakes.
It will take a lot to turn this into a victory at Preakness, but he has an excellent team helping him get there.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won this event five times in his career, while jockey Rosie Napravnik is one of the up-and-coming riders in the sport. Baffert also has a lot of confidence in this decision:
Jeannine Edwards of ESPN also pointed out this pair has fared well together:
Bayern has the skill to make a run at the Preakness Stakes and challenge for first place.
Ride On Curlin (10-1)
In many races, having the outside post is something to be afraid of in the draw. However, Ride On Curlin could be in good shape starting from No. 10.
After learning about the post, trainer Billy Gowan sai: "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," as reported by Mike Farrell of the Associated Press.
With a smaller field compared to the Kentucky Derby, Ride On Curlin has a chance to move into position to give him a chance to close late. With the horse's speed and ability to catch up to the field, he will be in good shape heading into the final turn.
Additionally, Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form thought the thoroughbred looked good in his training:
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
If he can have a better run than at Churchill Downs, he will have a chance to win the Preakness.
Social Inclusion (5-1)
Like Bayern, Social Inclusion was not present at the Kentucky Derby, mostly due to the lack of experience. The horse's only truly competitive start was at the Wood Memorial Stakes, where he finished in third place.
This makes him a relative unknown heading into the Preakness, but the talent is clearly there to make a strong run at Pimlico.
Tom Pedulla of the New York Times examines Social Inclusion's past races to explain why he has a chance to do well this weekend:
He romped by seven-and-a-half lengths when he debuted Feb. 22 at Gulfstream Park in Florida. He then burst onto the national scene March 12, when he smashed the track record there with a time of 1 minute 40.97 second for a mile-and-a-sixteenth in a 10-length rout of Honor Code, a graded stakes winner.
Also working in Social Inclusion’s favor is that he earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure during that record-setting performance; California Chrome, whose top Beyer is 108, posted a winning time of 2:03.66 in the Derby, the slowest winning mark on a Derby track labeled fast since 1974.
While California Chrome had a slow time mostly due to the slow pace of the field, the fact remains that some quicker competition will greatly affect the favorite.
Coming from the No. 8 post, Social Inclusion should be able to get to the front of the pack and push the pace for the majority of the race.
California Chrome (3-5)
Although the margin of victory at the Kentucky Derby was under two lengths, California Chrome was clearly the best in the field in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Jockey Victor Espinoza did a great job of keeping something left for the final stretch, and the horse responded well with a push at the end. Interestingly, the jockey still thinks there is more in the tank, as noted by Tim Wilkin of the Albany Times Union:
Victor Espinoza says he hasn't asked @CalChrome for all he's got. "I really don't know if he has more or if he has run as hard as he can."— Tim Wilkin (@tjwilkin) May 16, 2014
It is almost scary to think about what California Chrome can do if he hits another gear.
However, he might have a difficult time getting to the front of the pack from inside at No. 3. David Grening of Daily Racing Form points out that it has been a while since anyone won the Preakness from this post:
California Chrome drew post 3 inside of speed horses Social Inclusion (8) and Pablo del Monte (9) Prairie Bayou '93 last horse to win from 3— David Grening (@DRFGrening) May 14, 2014
If he gets trapped by the rail, he will have a hard time making a break at the end. Still, California Chrome's speed should give him a chance to win any race regardless of where he starts.
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