California Chrome headlines a field of 10 in Saturday’s $1,500,000 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The 1 3/16 mile route on the main track is the second leg in the three-race Triple Crown series and the highlight of Saturday’s 13-race Pimlico card.
The dream continues for the connections of Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, who coasted across the finish line to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 1 ¾ lengths two weeks ago. The Art Sherman trainee reportedly rebounded from the Derby effort in fine fashion with plenty of energy and appetite. The son of Lucky Pulpit is undefeated for the year and boasts a career record of seven wins in 11 starts, much more experience than most of his rivals. He’s shown great speed and versatility in previous starts and has been able to win on the lead or from off the pace. California Chrome towers over his Preakness competitors and has been installed as the 3-5 morning-line favorite. He’ll break from post 3 under jockey Victor Espinoza.
Always a much discussed factor in the Preakness is the “new shooters” concern. Horses that either didn’t get into the Kentucky Derby field or needed additional time before his next race, theoretically enter the Preakness field fresh and full of run. I don’t buy the new shooter factor. Since 1970 only seven horses have won the Preakness that did not compete in the Kentucky Derby and one of those was Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra.
Six Preakness 139 contenders are classified as new shooters—Illinois Derby (G3) winner Dynamic Impact, Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Ring Weekend, Derby Trial (G3) runner-up Bayern (who finished first, but was disqualified and placed second), Federico Tesio winner Kid Cruz, Wood Memorial (G1) third-place finisher Social Inclusion, and Blue Grass Stakes (G1) third-place finisher Pablo Del Monte. Of this lot, the most likely threat is trainer Manuel Azpurua’s Social Inclusion.