Horses that Can Win the 2014 Preakness Stakes
by Trevor Whenham - 5/7/2014
The Preakness Stakes is shaping up to have a relatively small field this year. There are just 10 horses pointed towards the race this year, and it's very unlikely that all 10 will actually make the starting gate. Of those 10, only three are horses that also ran in the Kentucky Derby, so it's a fresh group of runners. Of course, not all of these horses are equal. From the field, here are the six horses that can win the Preakness ( odds to win are from Sportsbook.ag):
California Chrome (-125): He won the Derby, so he is obviously capable of winning a shorter race against a smaller field. He was able to take advantage of a near-perfect trip in the Derby, and the race was all but over by the middle of the stretch. It was a strong performance. And given these odds, the optimism going forward is obviously very high. There are concerns that handicappers have to wrestle with in their search for value, though. He's a horse that likes to sit just off the early pace. In the Derby that early pace was very slow in relative terms, so he was not pushed, and he had plenty in reserve when the time came to make his move. In this race he is likely to face a much more aggressive early pace. Combine that with coming off of just two weeks rest, and his win isn't as assured as you might expect given his dominance in the Derby.
Danza (+600): Todd Pletcher had four horses in the Derby, but he is potentially back with just this one here. This horse had a very rough collision with stablemate Vinceremos early in the Derby and was still able to fight back and finish third. He's tough and determined, and he will certainly be a factor here. In a perfect world he would sit just behind California Chrome early and look for his opportunity. He's capable.
Social Inclusion (+800): Heading into the Wood Memorial this horse was unbeaten and heavily-hyped. He set the pace in that race but faltered down the stretch. He was pointed at the Derby, but he ultimately didn't make the field. Now he's here, and he's likely to be up front setting the pace - or at least contesting it. His talent is obvious, but he is raw. If he has learned from the Wood and matured in the time since then he could be a big factor here. If he lets himself get carried away by the early speed, though, then he could be in trouble. One concern I have is that the connections chose to drive him from Florida to Baltimore instead of flying him. That's a whole lot of travel a week before the biggest race of his life.
Bayern (+1000): This horse, the lone Bob Baffert horse in the Derby field, is similar to Social Inclusion in many ways. He was unbeaten and heavily-hyped after a huge allowance win, but he finished third in the Arkansas Derby. He came back again in the Derby Trial and won the race. He was subsequently disqualified, but jockey Rosie Napravnik gets the blame for that after a very questionable ride. Like Social Inclusion, he wants the lead and is likely to fight for it early. He is also coming off a lightning-fast work at Churchill Downs, so he is sharp. The speed duel early should be the defining aspect of this race, and this horse will be in the midst of it.
Ride On Curlin (+1400): It's not often that a horse is as poorly served by his jockey as this horse was by Calvin Borel in the Derby. He was very aggressively taken from the outside of the starting gate to the rail, and he was at the back of the field - not at all where the horse wants to be. It was a mess, but at least it meant that the horse didn't have to race hard for much of the race, so he should have plenty left in the tank for this race. He would benefit from suicidal early fractions because he could pick up the pieces. His dad won the Preakness, and there is no reason he can't, too.
Kid Cruz (+1800):
This horse is taking a massive step up in class, but he deserves at least a little bit of respect. Last time out he won the Federico Tesio Stakes. That's
not one of the top races in the country by any means, but it takes place at Pimlico just like the Preakness. That means we know that the horse likes the
course - something we can't say about any other runners. He has won two straight, and they have been impressive. Ruler On Ice was second in the Tesio in
2011 before winning the Belmont, so the race can produce Triple Crown winners. I don't expect Kid Cruz to win, but he certainly could be a big part of
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