The Preakness Stakes has been contested in some miserable weather conditions that have adversely impacted the quality of the race over the years, but that won't be a concern when it comes to the 2014 edition.
California Chrome and nine additional contenders will converge on Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore Saturday evening with racing immortality on the line. The stakes are especially high for California Chrome, as he can potentially come within one victory of the Triple Crown after winning the Kentucky Derby.
Things would have been even more difficult if California Chrome had been tasked with battling the elements in addition to the field, but it doesn't appear as though that will be an issue.
Here is all the latest info you need to know about weather, odds and much more as the Preakness quickly approaches.
Where: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore
Post Time: Saturday, May 17 at 6:18 p.m. ET
Preakness Stakes Field
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Mark Casse||23-1|
|2||General a Rod||Javier Castellano||Mike Maker||22-1|
|3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||1-2|
|4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||Graham Motion||25-1|
|5||Bayern||Gary Stevens||Bob Baffert||9-1|
|6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||Tom Amoss||14-1|
|7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||Linda Rice||10-1|
|8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||Manuel Azpurua||8-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||50-1|
|10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||Billy Gowan||11-1|
*Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com as of noon ET on Saturday, May 17.
The weather was less than ideal Friday as Pimlico was pummeled by rain, but the weather will cooperate throughout the day on Saturday. According to Weather.com, there is a mere 10 percent chance of rain for the 6:18 p.m. ET post time with a comfortable temperature of 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
Weather is always a fluid situation, but all reports have been favorable to this point. Per The Baltimore Sun, the temperature is expected to crack the 70-degree mark:
Additionally, AccuWeather.com does not anticipate any type of precipitation:
Dry weather is in store for the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes later this afternoon http://t.co/vMNubDE0xh— AccuWeather.com (@breakingweather) May 17, 2014
The forecast looks so fantastic that Chris Dachille of WBAL-TV is calling it a historically beautiful day at Pimlico:
Quite possibly the best weather ever for a Preakness Stakes. An absolutely glorious day in Baltimore. Good luck to all.— Chris Dachille (@WBALDash) May 17, 2014
Rain and sloppy tracks always add a certain unknown factor to races, but those who are heavily invested in the Preakness luckily won't have to worry about that. All of the horses will be on equal footing, and that should make for a highly entertaining race.
The perfect weather will also make it easier for race goers to enjoy themselves, which is always the ultimate goal. Pimlico Race Course hasn't always been fortunate in terms of Preakness weather, but all the stars have aligned for an excellent day this year.
Projected Win-Place-Show Finish
Win: California Chrome
With the Preakness Stakes quickly approaching, there seems to be a sense that this race is about California Chrome and then everyone else. That is certainly understandable since the dynamic colt outclassed the field in the Kentucky Derby and has won five consecutive races to boot.
California Chrome is heavily favored to stretch that streak to six and come within a Belmont Stakes win of becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. In addition to that, California Chrome looked to be in excellent condition Saturday morning, according to Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form:
California Chrome - great lines, super looking athlete. Bathed & ready to be cooled out. Jogged one lap. pic.twitter.com/a5KiB1VX2J— Marcus Hersh (@DRFHersh) May 17, 2014
Despite that, there were some question marks regarding California Chrome's health on Thursday. The Kentucky Derby winner was reportedly heard coughing, which led to speculation that he might be ill. Trainer Art Sherman shrugged off the speculation, though, and explained that it was nothing to be worried about, per Gary Mihoces of USA Today.
Well, you know sometimes they get a little scratch with throat blisters, and it's not a big deal. ... It's just something like, horses do have it. If you scope a lot of horses after race, you're going to see all kind of little stuff going on. None of them are really perfect. ... You'll see dirt down their throats. ... It could be even the feed. Sometimes they don't digest it really well, and it's a different form of feed. A lot of horses will eat their straw, and maybe there's a little kernel or two that kind of gets caught in their throat.
Assuming California Chrome's coughing fit was nothing of note, this race is clearly his to lose. The field as a whole doesn't look particularly strong, especially when compared to the Kentucky Derby. California Chrome had no problem winning that race, and there is no reason to expect a different result at Pimlico.
Place: Kid Cruz
California Chrome's closest competition in the Kentucky Derby came from an unexpected source, as long shot Commanding Curve made a late run to nab second. Kid Cruz has gained a bit more acclaim than Commanding Curve due to the Preakness' smaller field, but he isn't a horse that is getting a ton of respect.
Perhaps that is a mistake on the part of horse racing observers since Kid Cruz seemingly has all the tools necessary to contend. Along with three wins in his past four races, Kid Cruz has experience at Pimlico Race Course. His most recent victory came at Pimlico, which means that there will be certain comfort level present that isn't necessarily shared by other horses.
Kid Cruz also has a penchant for coming from off the pace to win races. Larry Zap of BloodHorse.com anticipates a quick pace being set early in the race, which would essentially play into Kid Cruz's biggest strength:
I'm sensing a sub46 half mile in the @PreaknessStakes-that will help a deep closer like Kid Cruz-California Chrome must deal w/speed outside— Larry Zap (@larryzapeye) May 14, 2014
The big question is whether or not Kid Cruz will have enough late kick to overtake a horse as strong as California Chrome. Conventional wisdom suggests that he probably won't, but a second-place finish is extremely realistic with an outside shot at the win existing as well.
Show: Ride On Curlin
Which horse do you believe will win the 2014 Preakness Stakes?
Ride On Curlin is one of the few returning horses from the Kentucky Derby to run in the Preakness Stakes as well. Despite being tabbed as one of the top contenders at Churchill Downs, Ride On Curlin was a virtual non-factor in a seventh-place finish. Even so, Ride On Curlin should make a bit more noise at Pimlico.
The biggest reason for Ride On Curlin's disappointing Kentucky Derby run was jockey Calvin Borel's decision to drop back and ride the rail. Ride On Curlin made a strong run in the latter stages, but he simply had too much ground to make up. Provided Ride On Curlin takes a different route Saturday, he will almost certainly be in the mix, according to Joe Bianchino of 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio:
Ride on Curlin - Wouldn't have won the Derby, but w/ a better trip he'd have been top 4. Great closing run. Will be there today. #Preakness— Joe Bianchino (@Joe_1045) May 17, 2014
Trainer Billy Gowan made a jockey switch after the Kentucky Derby, as Ride On Curlin will now be saddled by Joel Rosario. That should help to some degree, but it ultimately comes down to the horse. Per HRRN, Gowan feels great about his colt's form right now:
Gowan: I'm excited about running today. I think @RIDEONCURLIN is at the top of his game right now.— HRRN (@HRRN) May 17, 2014
The plan with Ride On Curlin seems to be a late close in an effort to usurp a leading California Chrome. That is similar to what Kid Cruz will likely attempt. Both horses will fall just short and battle it out for second and third, with Ride On Curlin just coming up with the short end of the stick.
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