Preakness 2014 Contenders: Race-Day Picks for Top Horses and Jockeys

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2014

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 15:  Exercise rider Willie Delgado takes Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome over the track in preparation for the 139th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 15, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Two weeks after running away with the Kentucky Derby, California Chrome will look to achieve the same result at Pimlico during the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes.

This second leg of the Triple Crown features a smaller field of 10 horses running the 1 3/16-mile race on Saturday. Only three of those competitors also partook in the Derby, but the star of the show is returning in hopes of notching another victory.

After convincingly winning at Churchill Downs, California Chrome is considered the runaway favorite to keep his Triple Crown chances alive with jockey Victor Espinoza guiding the way. Some fresher legs, however, will put that goal in jeopardy in Baltimore.

 

139th Preakness Stakes

When: Saturday, May 17 (Post Time: 6:18 p.m. ET)

Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland

TV: NBC (Broadcast begins at 4:30 p.m. ET)

Preakness Stakes Information
PostHorseJockeyTrainerOdds
1Dynamic ImpactMiguel MenaMark Casse12-1
2General a RodJavier CastellanoMike Maker15-1
3California ChromeVictor EspinozaArt Sherman3-5
4Ring WeekendAlan GarciaGraham Motion20-1
5BayernRosie NapravnikBob Baffert10-1
6Ria AntoniaCalvin BorelTom Amoss30-1
7Kid CruzJulian PimentelLinda Rice20-1
8Social InclusionLuis ContrerasManuel Azpurua5-1
9Pablo Del MonteJeffrey SanchezWesley Ward20-1
10Ride On CurlinJoel RosarioBilly Gowan10-1
Preakness.com

Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com as of Saturday, May 17 at 3:00 p.m. ET

 

Top Contenders

California Chrome (Victor Espinoza)

Espinoza is looking to make California Chrome the 12th horse to attain the Triple Crown. Of course, simple math tells us a victory at Pimlico still leads him just 2/3 the way. Per ESPN Stats & Info, a dozen horses entered Belmont with the feat intact, only to fall short during the final leg.

According to OddsShark, the Derby champion is the overwhelming Preakness favorite, garnering 3-5 odds to collect yet another victory. Considering he won his last five races, it's easy to see why.

Espinoza, who won the Preakness with War Emblem in 2002 after also taking the Derby, offered a scary thought to Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden: The 1 3/4-length victory at the Kentucky Derby was not even California Chrome at his finest.

"I don't think he liked the track that day," Espinoza said. "He was working a lot harder than usual to get over the surface. It was not easy for him."

Art Sherman's horse continues to win handily at every turn, regardless of the conditions or competition. Few people can question his legitimacy at this point, but another win would silence all doubters and legitimize his Triple Crown candidacy.

Right now, there's no real explanation to pick against California Chrome taking home another victory.

Prediction: Win 

 

Social Inclusion (Luis Contreras)

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 15: Exercise rider Domingo Navarro takes Social Inclusion over the track in preparation for the 139th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 15, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Social Inclusion was excluded from the Kentucky Derby, but he now gets a chance to shine on the Triple Crown stage.

Although fairly untested, he has strong results in a limited sample size, registering two wins and a third-place finish at the Wood Memorial Stakes, a Grade I event won by Wicked Strong. It's promising enough to make him one of the top favorites behind California Chrome.

Jockey Luis Contreras has never won a Triple Crown event, so his name will not draw gamblers to the betting line. Yet he finished 17th in total winnings last year, according to Equibase, while earning a top-three finish in 47 percent of his races.

Social Inclusion boasts a sensational burst out of the starting gate, but it's a matter of keeping up for the full race to conquer the competition. If there's a course that gives him a chance, it's the Preakness, the shortest track of the Triple Crown events.

Prediction: Place

 

Bayern (Rosie Napravnik)

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03:  Vicar's In Trouble #1, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, takes part in the post parade prior the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Rosie Napravnik will receive a Maryland homecoming riding Bayern, a colt trained by five-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert.  

Although she did not become the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, she told Maryland Jockey Club communications chief Mike Gathagan, via The Courier Journal's Jennie Rees, that winning the Preakness would be far from a consolation prize.

It would be just as special. It's a Triple Crown race. It's my home track with all my friends and family around. We'd have half the grandstand cheering for us — that's what would make it special. I would feel like — if I was able to ride the winner of the Preakness — that I was doing it for everybody who got me started in Maryland.

Last year, she finished third with Mylute at Pimlico, her first and only top-three finish in a Triple Crown event. The stage is set for another strong showing behind Bayern, who has won two of four races and was disqualified from the Grade 3 Derby Trial after leading the way.

With the legendary trainer and up-and-coming home-town jockey, Bayern has the supporting cast to make a strong run at the Preakness.

Prediction: Show