California Chrome can't get too comfortable as the favorite to take the Triple Crown's second leg. Pimlico's shorter course makes the Preakness States ripe for some unexpected results.
At 1 3/16 miles (9.5 furlongs), the Preakness welcomes sprinters who can challenge the Kentucky Derby winner by jumping out of the starting gate. There's a heavy favorite entering the proceedings, but don't be surprised if everything doesn't go according to plan.
Here's a look at the late odds heading into Pimlico. For daring gamblers out there, a few long shots stand a solid chance of at least finishing in the top three, making them worth a look in exotic bets.
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Mark Casse||12-1|
|2||General a Rod||Javier Castellano||Mike Maker||15-1|
|3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||3-5|
|4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||Graham Motion||20-1|
|5||Bayern||Rosie Napravnik||Bob Baffert||10-1|
|6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||Tom Amoss||30-1|
|7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||Linda Rice||20-1|
|8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||Manuel Azpurua||5-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley Ward||20-1|
|10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||Billy Gowan||10-1|
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com as of Saturday, May 17 at 1:45 p.m. ET.
Pablo Del Monte
Pablo Del Monte nearly slipped into the Kentucky Derby to replace a scratched Hoppertunity, but his owners opted not to compete in the 20th and final post position at Churchill Downs. Trainer Wesley Ward explained his decision to The Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee.
“Breaking from the 20 post probably would’ve made Jeffrey [Sanchez, jockey] use him a little too much,” Ward said. “We talked it over, and they thought it’d be best just to wait. I think they made the right call.”
He instead waited for the Preakness to unleash Pablo Del Monte, who most recently finished third in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. His speed plays better at Pimlico, giving him a better chance than he ever would have had as a late Derby entrant.
The decision can pay off, but only if the colt can maintain his pace down the closing stretch. He has the speed to gallop ahead early, so it's all a matter of sprinting into the money with a sturdy late push.
Kid Cruz is named after Victor Cruz, NFL wide receiver for the New York Giants. For an underdog horse getting written off, there's no better namesake than the salsa-dancing wideout who became a star in 2011, after an injury derailed his chance to make the squad the previous year.
The Star-Ledger's Jordan Raanan dug deeper into the possible parallels between the football player and horse.
It's not going to be easy. Much like Victor was when he was an undrafted free agent out of UMass, Kid Cruz is a substantial underdog. He missed the Wood Memorial and a chance at running in the Kentucky Derby because of a sore shoulder. Nobody gives the colt much of a chance. Kid Cruz is also trained by Linda Rice, and no female has ever trained a Preakness winner.
Well, it's time to give the colt a chance. He has something the other competitors don't: a win at Pimlico. Kid Cruz emerged victorious at the Federico Tesio Stakes last April, giving him his second straight first-place finish.
In his other 2014 race, he finished in second place, so he is quietly on a roll. Fast enough to keep up with this group of speedsters and disciplined enough to stay strong down the stretch, Kid Cruz is an intriguing sleeper to finish in the top three.
General a Rod
A poor Kentucky Derby performance plummeted General a Rod's stock, but one off day doesn't assure a replicated result.
One of the top contenders heading into Churchill Downs, General a Rod instead faltered with a 11th-place finish, diminishing his popularity almost as much as this other A-Rod. But he gets a chance for redemption at Pimlico.
Per the Albany Times Union's Tim Wilkin, trainer Mike Maker's confidence has not waned following the Derby letdown.
"He is carrying good flesh, and he didn't get a chance to show his true colors in the Derby. It's the Preakness, and we figured we would give it a shot."
The shaky start prompted a change. Jockey Javier Castellano is now taking the saddle in Joel Rosario's place. According to Equibase, Castellano has garnered the most winnings in 2014 while tied for the most first-place finishes at 134.
Bettors can use his past shortcoming to exploit a buy-low opportunity. The Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman is on the board with the calculated risk.
My one Preakness gamble will be this: think General a Rod an overlay, will outrun odds, looking for him under California Chrome in gimmicks— Jay Privman (@DRFPrivman) May 17, 2014
A little forgiveness can go a long way toward General a Rod, a solid play, given the favorable odds.