The 2014 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course features California Chrome, the odds-on favorite, attempting to win the second leg of the Triple Crown ahead of the Belmont Stakes on June 7.
Chrome won the Kentucky Derby by just under two lengths, although his lead heading into the final stretch was nearly five full lengths. Jockey Victor Espinoza wisely pulled Chrome back in order to ensure his safety and longevity during this Triple Crown hunt. It's that type of dominance that makes this duo the favorites in Baltimore.
But there are nine other horses in the field with hopes of ending Chrome's run at history. We haven't seen a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978, and we'll know after Saturday's race if there's a chance we'll see one in 2014.
Below is a table listing the field of horses based on post position. This table also includes each horse's odds and my personal predictions for how they'll finish.
|2||General A Rod||15-1||7th|
|9||Pablo Del Monte||20-1||10th|
|10||Ride On Curlin||10-1||6th|
HRTV, Official Preakness Odds
There were some concerns about California Chrome heading into the race, as a sore throat raised a few eyebrows. He'll run the race, though, and New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira likely agrees with the decision:
Don't worry #CaliforniaChrome, I've had a sore throat for a few days and it hasn't effected my speed.— Mark Teixeira (@teixeiramark25) May 16, 2014
The sore throat shouldn't hamper Chrome's abilities to run on Saturday, so it's still the smart move to stick with him and Espinoza. After all, there's a reason they're the consensus favorites.
Espinoza knows how to run this horse. This is what he told Ben Roberts of the Lexington-Herald Leader:
Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Victor Espinoza's strategy: "I just stretch his legs a little bit and then let him do his thing.”— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) May 4, 2014
After getting stretched out, Chrome turns on the jets and makes up serious ground. This is a speed that he has shown the ability to maintain over a long stretch. Maintaining this speed is going to be key on a shorter track. If Espinoza can successfully implement this strategy again, he and Chrome will be winners at Pimlico.
Despite 30-1 odds, Ria Antonia is a horse you shouldn't overlook.
History would suggest that she is a favorite running out of the No. 6 position, via Daily Racing Form's official Twitter account:
Since 1909 (first year stats available), including split race in 1918, post 6 winningest #Preakness post w/ 16 winners.— DRF Derby (@DRFDerby) May 14, 2014
History only goes so far, but it's clear that the No. 6 position should help. Jockey Calvin Borel is one of the more talented riders in the sport, so he'll know exactly how to handle the position. This duo could surprise bettors with a finish in the top-half of the competition.
That said, Ria Antonia and Borel will need a flawless run to finish that high. They'll need to be both flawless and lucky in order to take down Chrome.
Ride on Curlin
Ride on Curlin came from the back of the pack to finish seventh in the Kentucky Derby, but even that finish left much to be desired. The colt and jockey Joel Rosario will be looking for a much better finish at Pimlico.
It appears as if the duo is already on the right track towards improvement. Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman suggested on Twitter that Ride On Curlin is already looking much better than he did at Churchill Downs:
I thought Ride On Curlin's work today here at Pimlico looked a lot sharper than his final work before the Derby. #Preakness— Jay Privman (@DRFPrivman) May 14, 2014
Workout runs are generally a good indication of how a horse will run in the main event, but it's also hard to ignore the disappointing finish at the Derby. I think that should take precedent over this recent improvement.
Look for Rosario to keep Ride on Curlin—the son of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin—in the race, but I don't know if he'll have enough to keep up with Chrome at the top.