Will California Chrome take the 2014 Preakness Stakes and continue on his path to the coveted Triple Crown?
With Pimlico's most prestigious race just hours away, that's the question everyone is asking.
The 139th running of the Preakness boasts a strong field of contenders—a few of which have what it takes to upset favorite California Chrome.
Before we get into the gritty details of Preakness contenders and the Triple Crown outlook, let's take a glance at the current odds for Saturday's main event:
|2014 Preakness Stakes Post Positions and Odds|
|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|
The smaller, 10-horse field at the Preakness bodes well for California Chrome at the No. 3 gate. With a quick break, he has a great chance to hang near the front of the pack to use his great endurance and closing speed down the backstretch—a strategy that won him the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
The No. 3 post hasn't exactly been favorable recently, according to a tweet from ESPN Stats & Info:
Although, if any horse has a chance to end that streak, it's California Chrome.
Expect California Chrome to earn his sixth-straight victory at Pimlico on Saturday and enter the Belmont Stakes with a chance to make history.
Don't expect a blowout victory from the favorite, with the speedy Social Inclusion in the field.
Possibly the fastest horse on the track, Social Inclusion has been dominating competition leading up to the Preakness. Here's a look at his sparkling performance in March at Gulfstream Park:
According to a tweet from Steve Sherack of the Thoroughbred Daily News, Social Inclusion has looked good in pre-race workouts:
We also can't count out 2014 Kentucky Derby seventh-place finisher Ride On Curlin.
Despite his disappointing finish at the Derby, Ride On Curlin faced the daunting task of starting in 19th position. With far too much ground to cover, he wasn't given much of a chance from the start.
As luck would have it, Ride On Curlin once again drew a far outside position at the Preakness. He will start at gate No. 10; however, with a smaller field, he has much less ground to cover. If he can make a clean break, expect him to be a factor down the final stretch.
Here's some insight from trainer Billy Gowan, via a tweet from TVG:
Should the Preakness results play out in the fashion—with California Chrome winning the second leg of the Triple Crown—he faces a huge challenge at the Belmont Stakes.
With a larger and highly competitive field, and yet another short turnaround between races, this could be the California-bred's Achilles' heel.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. After all, the Preakness is just hours away.