Preakness Odds 2014: Last-Minute Updates and Picks

Michael DempseyFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2014

Preakness Odds 2014: Last-Minute Updates and Picks

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    The excitement is building, as the second jewel of the Triple Crown is just hours away. Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome is rightfully getting most of the attention and will be loaded in the Pimlico starting gate as the heavy favorite for the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes.

    While horseplayers may not be chomping at the bit to get down on a chalk like California Chrome, the prospect of a win and a Triple Crown bid in three weeks makes the Preakness one of the most exciting sporting events of the year.

    Let’s go over a few last-minute updates followed by my predictions for the top four finishers in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Weather: Expect a Fast Track

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Heavy rains fell on Friday in the Baltimore area, making the main track muddy and washing the races off the turf course. However, Mother Nature must be a racing fan, because things are improving. 

    The track was sealed early on Friday, forcing the water to roll off the surface instead of going in it, and the rain stopped early enough that there is plenty of time for track maintenance to get the surface in good shape for Saturday’s races.

    The Weather Channel forecast for Pimlico on Saturday calls for cloudy skies with a high of 70 and no rain. The stakes races carded for the turf for Saturday will stay, and the Maryland Jockey Club will wait until the morning to decide if the early races on the turf course will stay or be shifted to the main track.

The Lorde Is with the Infield

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    While the Kentucky Derby is known for hats, celebrities and Millionaire’s Row, the Preakness infield is all about the blue-collar set. While the Running of the Urinals is a thing of the past, and no drunken fan has taken a swing at a horse since 1999, the infield is still the place to party and have an excessive amount of alcohol. 

    Expect things to be calmer in the infield, despite what could be a record crowd that could approach 120,000.

    Grammy winner and recording artist sensation Lorde is the headliner, and she just may have a calming effect on the infield this year.

Chrome’s Throat, Cough Not an Issue

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    During the Triple Crown season, any little hiccup tends to be sensationalized by the media, and when it was announced that California Chrome had a minor throat blister, it went viral on social media. 

    The colt was treated and it will not be an issue, according to his connections.

    "California Chrome is fine. His throat is fine. He had a little tickle," Art Sherman’s son and assistant trainer Alan told the Pimlico Media Department. "He is not scratching from the Preakness. He is fine. I don’t know why it was blown out of proportion."

    The colt galloped two miles on Friday morning and all systems are go. "I thought he looked good," Sherman said.

California Chrome Will Get Hammered at Betting Windows

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    Wayne Parry/Associated Press

    If the early betting is any indication, California Chrome will get hammered at the betting windows on Saturday. The colt was bet down to 1-2 in early betting on Friday, according to Odds Shark. He was installed as the 3-5 morning-line favorite.

    Here are the latest odds:

    1. Dynamic Impact, 23-1
    2. General a Rod, 22-1
    3. California Chrome, 1-2
    4. Ring Weekend, 25-1
    5. Bayern, 9-1
    6. Ria Antonia, 14-1
    7. Kid Cruz, 10-1
    8. Social Inclusion, 8-1
    9. Pablo Del Monte, 50-1
    10. Ride On Curlin, 11-1

    The biggest movers in the early betting are Kid Cruz, who was bet down to 10-1 from his 20-1 morning line, and the filly Ria Antonia, who is at 14-1, down from her 30-1 morning-line odds.

    Now let's take a look at the top four finishers.

Fourth: Kid Cruz

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    Garry Jones/Associated Press

    This colt is the lone runner in the field that has won over the Pimlico surface, winning the Federico Tesio on April 19. The colt also is taking some betting action, down to 10-1 from his 20-1 morning-line, according to Odds Shark.

    As my colleague Jessica Paquette wrote, "He has home-track advantage but more than that, he has the running style to capitalize on what could be a hotly contested pace."

    Trainer Linda Rice claimed this colt for $50,000, and the purchase has paid off nicely. Horseplayers are taking to this colt because of his late-running style. If a fast pace develops as expected, this colt will be rolling late.

    His wins in the Miracle Wood and Tesio earned speed figures that are light compared to his competition, but the colt has the look of a runner who is capable of moving forward off his last two victories.

     

Third: Ride On Curlin

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    Gary Jones/Associated Press

    Just one of three that return off a two-week break after competing in the Kentucky Derby, this colt had a rough trip under Calvin Borel. Ride On Curlin was taken back to last early while saving ground, had to steady off heels entering the stretch, was angled out very wide and then drifted out even wider while making up some late ground to check in seventh. 

    While Borel is in the Hall of Fame and a three-time Derby-winning jockey, I like the switch in jockeys to Joel Rosario. The colt will get a better trip, and if a pace duel develops, he will be running late at a decent price.

    Things would really need to fall apart for him to win, but a second- or third-place finish is not out of the question.

Second: General a Rod

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    Garry Jones/Associated Press

    With a less-than-stellar trip in the Kentucky Derby, this colt has the look of a runner who can move forward. He showed in his two previous starts that he is fast enough to be competitive with the best of his generation. 

    He picks up a new jockey in the nation’s leading rider, Javier Castellano. The colt should be closer to the pace, sitting in mid-pack behind a sharp early pace. With a clean trip, he is going to be coming late.

    If California Chrome does not bring his A-game to Baltimore, General a Rod will be bearing down on him inside the final furlong.

First: California Chrome

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Sure, it’s the chalk, and I am jumping squarely on the bandwagon after trying to beat him two weeks ago at Churchill Downs. However, every indication is this colt is going to fire another strong effort and head to Belmont Park for a shot at Triple Crown glory. 

    The colt outran his pedigree and 18 foes in the Run for the Roses, scaring away 15 of the runners he beat from showing up in Baltimore. He does face seven new shooters, but horses that pass the Derby do not have a good record in the Preakness.

    Jockey Victor Espinoza should get a good tracking trip by sitting just off what will be a faster pace than we saw two weeks ago, and the colt will get the jump on the closers.

    With a modest pedigree and trainer, how can you not root for this colt?

    We’ll see him in New York in three weeks for a shot at history.