Before California Chrome inevitably breaks the Triple Crown drought—which seems to be the popular belief after he torched the Kentucky Derby field—there is the small matter of, you know, actually winning the Preakness Stakes first.
And the Belmont Stakes after that, of course. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?
California Chrome will have half the challengers to out-run in Baltimore, however, as the smaller Pimlico track will also have a 10-horse field. Can any of the other horses keep up with California Chrome? Or will the favorite check the second box in his "inevitable" Triple Crown conquest?
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||Prediction|
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||12-1||$26.00||7|
|2||General a Rod||Javier Castellano||15-1||$32.00||4|
|3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||3-5||$3.20||1|
|4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||20-1||$42.00||9|
|6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||30-1||$62.00||10|
|7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||20-1||$42.00||6|
|8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||5-1||$12.00||3|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||20-1||$42.00||8|
|10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||10-1||$22.00||2|
One of the worries surrounding California Chrome coming into this race was a cough that the horse developed, but both his trainer and owner aren't terribly worried about that, per NBC Sports:
Trainer Art Sherman says California Chrome's cough is just an "irritation" that the Derby Champ had off and on.— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 16, 2014
Owner Steve Coburn says California Chrome is smart enough that if he had a health problem, he would "call you."— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 16, 2014
With that worry seemingly put to rest, there doesn't seem to be a true challenger for California Chrome in this race. That's a big reason why Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated, among many others, believes the Derby champion will win in Baltimore, too:
To pick against Chrome in the Preakness is to make one of two significant leaps of faith: Presume either that one of the other nine horses will run the race of his life, or that Chrome will regress badly from his Derby. Neither appears likely (although there's that cough). The pace will be quick, but not too quick for Chrome. He will inhale the speed on the turn, as usual, and roll down the lane to victory. Ride On Curlin will close for second and Kid Cruz will get up for third. The speed horses will all fade. And then it's on to Belmont, where California Chrome will have chance to end a historic drought.
The horses that seemed most likely to give CC a run for his money at Pimlico—Hoppertunity, for instance, or filly and Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable—were unable to run in this race or held out by their owners. There are nine Davids and one Goliath in this field, except most people believe it will be the giant still standing after this tale is told.
But crazy things happen in the Triple Crown, and there are always horses that seemingly come out of nowhere to ruin the party. Layden feels Ride On Curlin and Kid Cruz will give California Chrome a run for his money.
The oddsmakers like Social Inclusion to be in the running, and the sprinter will certainly insure that there will be a faster pace this time around. Bayern will do the same. But does either horse have the stamina or power that California Chrome possesses?
Can either hold off the late-charging horses, too?
Remember, California Chrome has now won five straight races and proved he has the steam to hold off challengers on the longer Churchill Downs track. Neither Social Inclusion nor Bayern have that resume.
Dynamic Impact is getting a bit less love, but the strong finisher could make a late charge and shock the field. Starting on the No. 1 post isn't ideal, but it's far less detrimental than it would be in the Kentucky Derby, so if Dynamic Impact doesn't get squeezed too far back, he could make some noise in this race.
But yes, California Chrome is the odds-on favorite. Most of the country will not only be rooting him on, but expecting him to win. The hope, as is always the hope, will be that we head to New York with a Triple Crown on the line.
Because before we crown California Chrome, there is some more racing to be done.