Chrome Draws 3

Runners, riders and draws for the 139th Preakness Stakes

At odds of 3-5, Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome tops the betting boards for the 2014 Preakness Stakes.  The $1.5 million Gr1 Preakness Stakes takes place at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, May 17 over 1900m.  The colt, who will be ridden by regular pilot Victor Espinoza, drew an inside post position in the 10-horse field that includes a filly for the first time in five years.

Starting post positions for the 139th Preakness Stakes on Saturday:

1. Dynamic Impact
2. General a Rod
3. California Chrome
4. Ring Weekend
5. Bayern
6. Ria Antonia
7. Kid Cruz
8. Social Inclusion
9. Pablo Del Monte
10. Ride On Curlin

The California-bred colt by Lucky Pulpit drew inside most of the horses expected to break quickly for early position in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. But California Chrome doesn’t need the lead to win and is especially comfortable under Espinoza, who has ridden him to victory in his past five starts.

Art Sherman, California Chrome’s 77 year old trainer is confident.  “Three is fine with me.  I feel good, I don’t think post 3 will be an hindrance to him. Victor is a patient rider; he can play it by ear when the gates open. Most of the speed is on the outside of me. If they go, they go, I can tuck in right behind them without any problems. I think my horse will perform.”

California Chrome comes into the Preakness on a five race winning streak, however his short-priced odds of 3-5 have come as a surprise to his conditioner.  “I never thought I’d be that kind of price,” he said. “I really thought I’d be 6-5. I think he’ll have a big target on his back,” said Sherman, indicating that the odds may bother them more than their draw.

Chrome’s co-owner Steve Coburn has made no secret of the fact that he thinks his colt can go all the way.  “One race at a time,” he said, “but I’m still thinking Triple Crown.”  If California Chrome wins on Saturday, he will next be eyeing the Belmont Stakes on June 7. Only 11 horses have swept the American Triple Crown of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont and the last horse to achieve the feat was Affirmed in 1978.

Social Inclusion, third in the Gr1 Wood Memorial Stakes, skipped the Kentucky Derby and is one of seven new horses lining up to challenge California Chrome.  He drew post 8 and is currently second favourite at 5-1. Owned by Ron Sanchez’ Rontos Racing Stable, Luis Contreras has been engaged for the ride.  The Pioneerof the Nile colt has grabbed the lead early in all three of his starts and is expected to provide the early speed on Saturday.  “We’ll be in good position in the early stages,” said Sanchez. “My horse is more experienced now and he is multi-faceted. He has speed and strength. Everyone is impressed with California Chrome. I think he’ll run a good race, but this is a better field (than the Kentucky Derby).  Every owner here thinks they can beat California Chrome, but obviously the oddsmaker didn’t think so.”

Bayern and Ride On Curlin are joint third on the betting board at 10-1.  Bayern, owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was relegated to 2nd after a controversial finish in the Gr3 Derby Trial on 26 April.  He has drawn gate 5 and will run without blinkers on Saturday. Rosie Napravnik, winner of this year’s Kentucky Oaks aboard Untapable, will partner the colt and bids to become the first female jockey to win the race.  Daniel Dougherty’s Ride On Curlin finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, having jumped from a 19 draw under Calvin Borel.  Trainer William Gowan must be shaking his head as Ride On Curlin has landed another wide draw for the Preakness, and will jump from gate 10, although Joel Rosario will be in the saddle this Saturday.  “It’s OK,” Gowan said of the post position. “I’m an outside anyhow. I don’t think (the post) is bad here. With the kind of pace we have in the field, I think it’s fine.”

Calvin Borel has accepted the ride on the only filly in this year’s race, Ria Antonia.  Owned by Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing, Ria Antonia bids to become the first filly to win the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Like Rachel, Ria Antonia did not run in the Derby first. She finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks.  After the Oaks, Ria Antonia’s owners switched trainers, transferring from Bob Baffert to Tom Amoss.  Co-owner Ron Paolucci said “I always wanted to run in this race.  My filly is a really big filly, she’s really solid. Coming back in two weeks gives her an absolute edge. I know it’s really going to help her. I think this is right up my alley and right up her alley,” said Paolucci. “Anybody who has watched her train (would think so). If she runs as half as good as she trains, I wouldn’t want to trade places with anybody.””  Ria Antonia has drawn 6 and languishes at the bottom of the betting board at 30-1.  “I wish she was 50-1,” says Paolucci. “The way she works and trains, she thinks she’s 3-5.”

General a Rod is the only other Derby horse to try the Preakness. He was 11th at Churchill Downs two weeks ago.

There is a trio of 20-1 shots in the field. One of them, Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable’s Kid Cruz, was claimed by trainer Linda Rice for $50,000 from his final 2013 race.  He is a winner of back-to-back 3yo stakes in Maryland in his past two starts and Rice feels he deserves a shot here.  Kid Cruz has drawn 7 and will jump under Julian Pimentel.  Rice comments “He has obviously performed very well in his last two races, and we thought he deserves a chance in a race like this.  We’re probably in a better position with a closer like him in the Preakness than we would have been in the Derby with a 20-horse field. So, we’re going to take a shot. He hasn’t had a fast pace to close into yet, and I’m sure we’re going to get one Saturday. So I’m excited.”  When asked about the 20-1 odds—Kid Cruz was heavily favored in his last victory in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico—Rice said: “I hope it’s too high! Way too high!

The other 20-1 shots are Pablo Del Monte, who drew the No. 9 post, and Ring Weekend, who will break from the No. 4 spot.

Illinois Derby winner Dynamic Impact drew the No. 1 post, putting the colt along the rail, a spot not favored by most trainers who fear getting trapped inside.

Ogden Nash once wrote that “The Derby is a race of aristocratic sleekness, for horses of birth to prove their worth to run in the Preakness.”  We only have a few more days to find out.


Preakness Draws

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