The second jewel of the Triple Crown and a chance for greatness is on the line for California Chrome as he and nine other thoroughbreds contend for the 139th Preakness Stakes Saturday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course.
Coming off an impressive final stretch that won him the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, California Chrome could be the sixth horse in the last 12 years to follow up with a Preakness victory and be in line for the first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. I’ll Have Another was the last to win both the Derby and Preakness in 2012, but was pulled out of the Belmont with a foot injury.
Already victorious in five straight, a sixth consecutive win would also continue the storybook tale of a horse bred for $10,000 rising to occasion with historical consequences.
A cough and throat blister discovered Thursday could have been of some concern for California Chrome and his connections, but an examination and tests revealed he’s in top form and ready to take on the 1 3/16-mile dirt track. He’ll start from the No. 3 post, a favorable spot unlike the No. 1 post that cost Orb a chance at the Preakness last year and ended his attempt at the Triple Crown.
Other than General A Rod and Ride On Curlin, who also ran at Churchill Downs, California Chrome takes on seven new competitors hoping to upset his bid at history.
Odds makers have long pegged Social Inclusion (5/1) and Bayern (10/1) as the biggest challengers to California Chrome, but according to Predictieform, Kid Cruz and Ride On Curlin may have the best chances.
While finishing seventh in his first career race at Aqueduct, the New York-bred Kid Cruz has won three of his fast four races including the 1 1/6-mile Federico Tesio at Pimlico last month. With gross earnings of $161,375, only three other horses have made less for their connections than Kid Cruz (Social Inclusion and Pablo Del Monte), but he showed an impressive kick in his victory at Laurel Park by coming back from dead last after six furlongs.
Ride On Curlin stands out most due to his sire Curlin, who won the Preakness in 2007 and the Dubai World Cup a year later. Last summer, Ride On Curlin set a new track record at the 5 1/2 furlong MSW at Ellis Park, and won the six-furlong Allowance at Oakland Park back in January. He clearly shows a very quick start, but his wide No. 10 post position might be too much to overcome.
Updated Betting Odds With Post Positions via Bovada.lv
No. 1 Dynamic Impact 12/1
No. 2 General A Rod 15/1
No. 3 California Chrome 3/5
No. 4 Ring Weekend 20/1
No. 5 Bayern 10/1
No. 6 Ria Antonia 30/1
No. 7 Kid Cruz 20/1
No. 8 Social Inclusion 5/1
No. 9 Pablo Del Monte 20/1
No. 10 Ride On Curlin 10/1
Post Time: Official post time is 6:18 p.m. EST
Start Time: If the horses enter the gate on time, the actual start time should be around 6:20 or 6:23 p.m.
TV Channel: NBC
Live Online Stream Info: A live online stream is available at NBC Live Extra here