It's been a rainy couple of days in Baltimore, Maryland, which begs the question—are the wet conditions carrying over into Saturday's running of the 139th Preakness Stakes?
California Chrome's Triple Crown hopes come down to Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, and a victory will put the sizable favorite just one victory away from horse racing's most elusive crown. But that will be easier said than done if rain continues to fall and makes the track conditions muddy for Saturday's race.
Let's take a look at what the latest forecast has for Pimlico during race day along with everything else you need to prepare for the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans.
|2014 Preakness Stakes: Lineup + Odds|
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||12-1|
|2||General a Rod||Javier Castellano||15-1|
|3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||3-5|
|4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||20-1|
|6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||30-1|
|7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||20-1|
|8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||5-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||20-1|
|10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||10-1|
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
Those worrying about a rainy running of the Preakness, exhale. There's light—maybe even sunlight—at the end of the tunnel.
Weather.com indicates a 0 percent chance of precipitation throughout Saturday afternoon, partly cloudy skies and a temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the forecast is spot-on, it should be an ideal day for racing horses at Pimlico.
Now, the next issue for Pimlico officials isn't whether Mother Nature cooperates, but if the rainfall the course has seen in the days leading up to the race will keep the track muddy on Saturday afternoon.
According to Alex Sosnowski of AccuWeather.com, the race track saw the worst of it on Friday—the eve of the race:
Heavy rain unloaded on northern Maryland and Pimlico Race Course late this week but has departed ahead of the 2014 Preakness Stakes.
The steadiest and heaviest rain fell on the track during Friday morning into the midday. As of 11:00 a.m. EDT Friday, between 1.50 and 2.00 inches of rain has fallen since midnight Friday in the vicinity of the track at Pimlico.
A few hours are needed for the track to dry thoroughly after a heavy rain, according to officials of the Maryland Jockey Club.
If the rain subsided for good early Friday afternoon, the track should have a little more than 24 hours of rain-free weather before the running—much more than the "few hours" reported by Sosnowski.
With nearly two inches of rain hitting the area in a little over half a day, it's still unclear if the track will need more than the allotted time to dry off.
But as long as the weather forecast rings true, the more-than-24-hour window of time between precipitation and the running of the Preakness indicates jockeys and horses should be relatively dry for Saturday's race.
What it Means
Let's play devil's advocate and say the track remains muddy or, for the millionth time, the weather forecast proves to be wrong and rain does indeed hit Baltimore Saturday. What does it mean?
Well, it's not likely to change much. Wet or dry track, California Chrome is the massive favorite and will be expected to win on any track surface short of quicksand.
But there's no denying that the conditions would emerge as troublesome for the Triple Crown bid. A horse who uses his top speed and getaway ability to win races by large margins, California Chrome would prefer not to sink his hooves into a muddy track.
That same thing could be said of many of these 10 horses, however. A muddy track is going to considerably bring the speed down across the board, and with most of these contenders boasting fast starts out of the gate, rain would prove to be a big obstacle for more horses than just California Chrome.
Ride On Curlin is known as a horse who comes on late, but no real horse jumps off the page as benefiting greatly from subpar weather conditions. In all likelihood, all trainers and jockeys will be hoping for sunny skies and a dry track.
At the end of the day, California Chrome has proven to be the fastest horse, by far, among Triple Crown contenders this year and tends to save his best speed for the stretch. Even if the track turns out to be muddy, that ability of Art Sherman's horse should still shine through and allow him to beat out the other nine horses.
All horse information courtesy of Preakness.com unless otherwise noted