Can anyone stop California Chrome?
That question is really the only storyline at this year's Preakness. The racing world and the larger public that has tuned in now that Triple Crown season is upon us have a feeling, a hope, a desire that California Chrome could break the Triple Crown drought.
And at the Preakness, he seems likely to topple the second obstacle standing in his way. This isn't a terribly strong field, after all. So can Chrome pull off the feat?
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|
California Chrome is the boring pick in the Preakness, having won the Kentucky Derby and coming into Baltimore as the heavy favorite. But is there another horse in the field that can really challenge the horse that has won five straight races, all by pretty huge margins?
And that's why this race is less intriguing than it should be, as Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports writes:
The Kentucky Derby field annually contains the best and brightest 3-year-old colts in the land—along with a few overmatched dreamers. Besides California Chrome, only two other Derby horses are entered in the Preakness: Ride On Curlin (seventh in Louisville) and General a Rod (11th). Everyone else from the Derby bailed out on a $1.5 million race that is the second leg of the Triple Crown.
California Chrome has won three graded stakes races in a row, by a combined 14 1/4 lengths. The other nine horses in the field have combined to win two graded stakes races—Dynamic Impact in the Illinois Derby last month and Ring Weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby in early March. Winners of major 3-year-old spring races like the Arkansas Derby, Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes and Florida Derby are all sitting this one out.
'There's no bona fide stake horses in there,' [Art] Sherman said last week, more a statement of fact than any kind of trash talk. 'You've got to prove yourself.
This is not a Who's Who of horse racing. It's a Who's That.
That doesn't quite make this race a "Who Cares?" affair. But it does leave one very interesting question—Who can stop California Chrome?
Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated, who correctly projected California Chrome would win the Kentucky Derby, thinks it's simply a matter of talent in this race:
I'm sticking with California Chrome in Preakness, despite cough. Once again, he's just better. http://t.co/KGG9RZYHy2— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) May 16, 2014
But that doesn't mean CC is a guaranteed winner.
Social Inclusion, Bayern and Ride On Curlin will be the popular choices to pull off the upset. There is the possibility that California Chrome could get baited into breaking too quickly and lose steam down the stretch. He could get squeezed in the middle of the pack and fall too far behind (California Chrome is a stalker, not a deep closer). A late finisher like Kid Cruz should shock everyone and catch him from behind.
Or, the unthinkable could happen and he could simply have a bad day. He is coming off just two weeks rest, after all.
You just never know. But the oddsmakers don't think it will happen. The pundits don't think it will happen. Heck, most of you probably don't think it will happen.
California Chrome feels like the best chance we have at a Triple Crown winner in years. He feels like the obvious choice at the Preakness.
Now, he just has to prove us all right.