Social Inclusion Odds to win the 2014 Preakness Stakes
by Trevor Whenham - 5/13/2014
In the eyes of most people - and certainly of the oddsmakers - California Chrome is very likely to win the Preakness. Social Inclusion is one of the horses that has something to say about that, though. The talented-but-very-lightly-raced colt is the toughest foe that the favorite will face, and he has been installed as the second-favorite. Social Inclusion's odds to win the Preakness sit at +500 according to Sportsbook.ag. That puts him far behind California Chrome at -160 but well ahead of the rest of the pack.
So, can Social Inclusion win the Preakness? When trying to decode that question, here are five factors to consider:
Last race: The last outing for Social Inclusion was just his third career start and his stakes debut. There was some real desperation for the connections, and he likely needed to finish in the top two spots in the Wood Memorial to earn enough points to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby field. As he likes to do, the horse set the early fractions in the race. He faded slightly down the stretch and was passed by Wicked Strong and Samraat. He was still impressive in holding on for third, though. It wasn't the ideal race by any means, but it is hard to get too concerned about one somewhat underwhelming performance in a stakes debut and just the third race overall. To add to that, this horse is young for this group - his actual birth date is just May 1. That means he is behind the curve a bit in maturing, and he could be a bit slower finding his stride. After the race the owners faced a dilemma, because the Florida-based runner was on the Derby bubble. They ultimately opted to stay in Florida, though they would have earned a spot in the Derby in the end. They instead pointed for a prep race at Gulfstream, but a bruised foot kept him from that outing. That injury clearly didn't have a lasting impact, because earlier this week he had a very fast and impressive workout at Pimlico. Frankly, I am skeptical about the injury at all - it could have just been the easiest way to avoid the race.
Previous experience: Social Inclusion only ran twice before the Wood Memorial, but the second of those outings elevated him from a raw rookie to a horse squarely in the national racing spotlight. He was lined up against highly regarded three year old star Honor Code in an allowance race at Gulfstream. He was supposed to be an afterthought, but he completely ran away with the race, winning by about a million lengths and setting a track record in the process. It was a stunning, freakish result. He didn't build on that effort in the Wood Memorial. The challenge now is to determine whether he will be able to recapture some of that magic in the Preakness - on a track he clearly likes.
The pace factor: The game plan has been simple for this horse in his races - get the lead early, push the pace, and stay in front for as long as you can. That is very likely the approach he will take in the Preakness as well. There are three clear speed horses in the field - this guy along with Bayern and Pablo Del Monte. Of the three, Social Inclusion stands out as the top speed. Bayern hasn't been doing as well from the front lately, and trainer Bob Baffert has given hints that he will look to sit a bit further back. It's Pablo Del Monte that will make things interesting. He is a speed horse with little chance of winning, so he has nothing to lose. His best hope could be to run away with the race, so he could be very aggressive early. If he is then Social Inclusion may be forced to accept running with a horse in front of him. On the other hand, it will likely be in the best interest of this horse to ensure reasonably fast early fractions. In the Derby California Chrome enjoyed lethargic early fractions, and he was able to dominate late. The key to beating him could be to make him work much harder at the start.
Trainer: Art Sherman has gotten a lot of attention for winning the Kentucky Derby for the first time at age 77. While that is impressive, Sherman is a young man compared to Social Inclusion's trainer, Manny Azpurua. He is 85 years young, and he seems to just be entering his prime - his most lucrative year as a trainer came in 2013. He has never entered the Preakness before, but did finish ninth in the Belmont in 2012 with Ravelo's Boy. He has been training in the U.S. full time since 1978 after a successful training career in his native Venezuela. How do you evaluate a trainer like this in a spot like this? I honestly have no idea. Luckily, we don't have to deal with too many 85-year-old rookies in the sports world.
I am very excited to see Luis Contreras making his Preakness debut. He's not a rider who is at the forefront of public knowledge, but he is immensely
talented. The Woodbine-based jockey was named top rider in Canada in 2011 and 2012, and he won an individual Canadian Triple Crown in 2011 by winning the
three races on two different horses. He's a strong, smart rider, and he's a good choice for this horse. He was aboard for the strong workout earlier this
week, and he seems very comfortable with the horse. The jockey is more of an asset here than most people will assume.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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