California Chrome will look to extend his bid at winning the Triple Crown when he gallops out of the starting gate at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, May 17 at 6:18 p.m. ET.
As a 3-5 favorite in the morning line, the Kentucky Derby champion faces huge expectations under jockey Victor Espinoza. The pair won't just be facing expectations either, but the hopes of horse racing fans everywhere. There hasn't been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
There were heavy rains at Pimlico on Friday, but Saturday figures to offer up a drier environment. Weather.com lists a small 10 percent chance of rain at post time.
Have a look at all the vitals for this race.
Where: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland
Post Time: Saturday, May 17 at 6:18 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Mark E. 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||H. 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||Manny Azpurua||5-1|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley A. Ward||20-1|
|10||Ride on Curlin||Joel Rosario||William Gowan||10-1|
As you can see, California Chrome is a runaway favorite, and that isn't likely to change by post time. There is too much to like about the Art Sherman trainee.
Chrome has won five straight races, and done so with ease. The victories have come by over a combined 26 lengths. His victory at the Kentucky Derby came by less than two lengths, but Espinoza didn't have to push Chrome too hard and began his celebration a few strides early.
On top of his dominance, past Kentucky Derby champs have fared well at the Preakness. Eight of the past 16 Preakness champs have doubled down on their triumph at Churchill Downs.
Also, the Preakness is a race for favorites. As ESPN Stats and Info points out, "the post-time favorite in the Preakness has finished first or second in 13 of the last 16 years."
Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown?
There are a couple of facts that could sway bettors from Chrome. The first is that seven of the 10 horses in this field were not in the Kentucky Derby. That means Chrome will be far from the freshest horse in this field.
The other is his post position. The inside posts at the Preakness have not been the place to be for the past two decades. In particular, the third post hasn't fielded a winner since Prairie Bayou in 1993.
The Associated Press' Beth Harris passes along how this plays into Sherman's concerns: ‘‘My biggest concern is the first 70 yards leaving the gate. I don’t want him to get impeded behind horses with no place to go. All you can do is hope for a good trip.’’
Checking in at 5-1 odds, Social Inclusion is expected to be Chrome's biggest challenger. Inclusion was scratched from his last start with a foot bruise, but by all accounts, he is ready to go for the Preakness.
Early in the week, Marcus Hersh of the Daily Racing Form noted that the horse looked good at Pimlico and that jockey Luis Contreras said: "[Social Inclusion] feels great. He feels very light on this racetrack."
Also, Thoroughbred Daily News' Steve Sherack lets us know that Inclusion continued to train well:
His last time out, Inclusion finished third at the Wood Memorial, but did so after breaking wide.
Inclusion, who didn't race as a two-year-old, has the speed to win. He set Gulfstream Park's track record for 1 1/16 miles.
That speed won't be enough to topple Chrome, however. Look for the colt to turn in a similar run as his Derby effort. His kick down the homestretch will lead to a comfortable victory.