Will the crown fit?
We won't find out unless California Chrome wins the next two races, of course, but most of America has been fitting the horse's head nonetheless.
But there are nine other horses in this race, and they'll have something to say about the proceedings on Saturday, too. What they say might only be a whimpered whinny as California Chrome kicks dust in their face, but races aren't won on paper, either.
So with that in mind, let's take a comprehensive look at this contest, starting with the race information.
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
And here is the field, the odds and race predictions:
|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|
As you can see, California Chrome is the heavy favorite, and it's not even close. But if historical trends continue, that should mean big things for the Kentucky Derby winner, per ESPN Stats and Information:
The post-time favorite in the Preakness has finished first or second in 13 of the last 16 years. Last year, 3-5 favorite Orb finished fourth, the second time in four years that the favorite completed the race and finished out of the money (Super Saver in 2010 finished 8th). Before that, it hadn't happened since 1996.
California Chrome will likely be the odds-on favorite (less than 1-1). He would be just the ninth horse since 1980 to go off at such low odds. Only two of the other seven horses in this stretch won the race: Smarty Jones in 2004 and Big Brown in 2008.
Well, it might mean big things for California Chrome. Of course, history won't mean much once the gun sounds.
The more recent past might have a bigger effect, however. California Chrome has won five races in a row and it really hasn't been close. Much of the talk heading into this race has centered on trying to figure out which horse, in a pretty weak field, might be able to dethrone the Derby winner.
Of course, this race is going to be far different from the Derby, as the Preakness is a shorter track and attracts the sprinters in the field. California Chrome was able to essentially run his race in Kentucky—stalk the early lead, pull away somewhere in the middle of the race, gallop away from the competition—but will he be able to do so again in Baltimore?
His owner, Art Sherman, certainly thinks so, as he told Tom LaMarra of Bloodhorse.com (via ESPN):
If there is speed in this race, he's not going to be too far off it. The horse will run his race. They better have their running shoes on. I think we'll do really well. Victor [Espinosa] said he has never gotten to the bottom of the horse.
Perhaps the other horses in this race will hope California Chrome is too obsessed with the early speed and burns himself out. And there will be early speed, with burners like Bayern and Pablo Del Monte and a talented runner in Social Inclusion.
Perhaps then another horse, a Ride On Curlin or Kid Cruz, can catch the Derby champion in the end. It's all possible.
But it sure seems improbable, doesn't it?
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