You don’t often hear a lot of talk about sex appeal in regard to horses.
Except in big time horse races; races like the Preakness.
Just maybe not this year’s edition.
Ten horses will take to the Pimlico Starting gate on Saturday, with only two under 10/1 on the morning line, and only one of that pair entering off a win. That horse is, of course, California Chrome – the reigning Kentucky Derby champion, prohibitive 3/5 favorite, and the horse of the race.
Because beyond him, there’s not a ton to discuss. He’ll be challenged, but with most of the other 18 Derby horses opting to wait until Belmont to challenge the champ, the pride of Dumb Ass Partners is clearly the best horse in the field, and deserves the 3/5 tag.
1 – Dynamic Impact – 12/1: Though he’s won his last two races, it took this Mark Casse colt five tries to break his maiden, and did so only by a neck – his largest margin of victory, having bested a less than stellar field by a nose in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby in his last start. He’ll be forwardly placed at the start, but maybe not at the end.
2 – General a Rod – 15/1: Only once in his career has this Mike Maker trainee finished beyond third. That time, though, was last out in the Kentucky Derby where he finished 11th – a distant eight and a half lengths behind his neighbor in Saturday’s starting gate. Expect an improvement off that May third performance, but even with a jockey change to Javier Castellano, it’s hard to think it’ll be a seismic one.
3 – California Chrome – 3/5: Despite having won four straight entering the Kentucky Derby, there were plenty who doubted this colt’s ability. When he struck the lead at the top of the stretch and kicked away from the field with a few, easy strides, though, only the stubborn of those remained. California Chrome is for real. He may have crossed the wire in an incredibly slow 2:03, but that romp was as impressive as anything we’ve seen this year; he was every bit as dominant in Kentucky as he has been in California. He’ll have to deal with plenty of company at the front of a fast pace, but there’s no reason to think he won’t handle it.
4 – Ring Weekend – 20/1: Another who needed five starts capture his first win, this Graham Motion gelding has two wins and two places in his last four starts, but each has come against significantly inferior competition.
5 – Bayern – 10/1: It’s not a matter of if this speedy colt can get the lead, it’s a matter of how long he can hold it – which doesn’t figure to be long with Bob Baffert’s lone Preakness runner having lost his only race at a distance longer than a mile.
6 – Ria Antonia – 30/1: It’s always exciting when a filly takes on the boys. It’s curious, though, that this filly would try it. A distant sixth place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks last time out, and a winner of only two races in her career – one having come through disqualification, and almost all of her starts in races restricted to fillies – this Calvin Borel mount seems a cut well below the rest. A closer, the race will set up well for her, but there’s a reason the owners had to change trainers to find one willing to run her here.
7 – Kid Cruz – 20/1: Looking for a long shot? Stop looking. He’s stepping up in class from his last two starts, but he’s been a decided winner in those two and, a closer like the filly, the race’s expected hot pace will set up nicely for a late run.
8 – Social Inclusion – 5/1: Expected to be a contender for the Derby, a front running colt who looked incredibly impressive in the first two starts of his career – with two wins by a combined 17.5 lengths – Social Inclusion finished a disappointing third in the Wood Memorial and failed to collect enough points for the first Saturday in May. The question, then, is whether the Wood was a fluke, or if it was the realistic result of his stepping up into world class competition – and whether his best is even enough to beat California Chrome anyway.
9 – Pablo Del Monte – 20/1: After scratching out of the Kentucky Derby, it’s now been seven months since this Wesley Ward trainee won a race. His versatility is a plus – his best races have come from the front, but he’s also shown the ability to hit the board from off the pace – but this isn’t a colt you can trust.
10 – Ride On Curlin – 10/1: In ten career starts, Ride on Curlin has finished outside of fourth only once – last time out in the Kentucky Derby. The 7th place finish may be better than the stats suggest, though, as the Joel Rosario mount – then ridden by Calvin Borel – closed into a slow pace and managed that mid pack finish from dead last. He’ll likely get more speed to run into on Saturday, and will be dangerous coming down the stretch running after tiring front runners.
For a full preview of the race, check back tomorrow.
Author: Joseph White
Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBNTS. Email him at Joe@noticketsports.com.