Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

May 15, 2014

California Chrome favored at Preakness

BALTIMORE — Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome was made the odds-on favorite at 3-5 on Wednesday for the Preakness Stakes, and he drew an inside post position in the 10-horse field that includes a filly for the first time in five years.

Trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome will break from the No. 3 post, which has produced 10 winners in the previous 138 runnings of the 1 3/16-mile race.

“Three is fine with me,” Sherman said. “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.”

So does California Chrome’s co-owner Steve Coburn, who dared to look ahead.

“One race at a time,” he said, “but I’m still thinking Triple Crown.”

If California Chrome would win Saturday, next up would be the Belmont Stakes on June 7. Only 11 horses have swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont and none since 1978.

California Chrome brings a five-race winning streak into the Preakness, having won that many by a combined 26 lengths. Still, his overwhelming odds surprised Sherman, a 77-year-old trainer who has never had a colt this good.

“I never thought I’d be that kind of price,” he said. “I really thought I’d be 6-5.”

Speedster Social Inclusion was the 5-1 second choice of new Pimlico oddsmaker Keith Feustle. The colt drew the No. 8 post. He skipped the Kentucky Derby and is one of seven new horses lining up to challenge California Chrome on Saturday.

“I’m never afraid of nothing,” owner Ron Sanchez said. “We have a great post position. We have slow horses to our outside. That’s going to help us a lot.”

Bayern and Ride On Curlin are the co-third choices at 10-1. Bayern, who drew the No. 5 post, is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who will be seeking a sixth Preakness win. Rosie Napravnik will ride the colt, trying to become the first female jockey to win the race.

Ride On Curlin finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.

Once again, Ride On Curlin drew an outside post, landing in the No. 10 spot after breaking from the 19th position in the Derby starting gate under Calvin Borel. This time, Joel Rosario will ride the colt.

Borel has switched to filly Ria Antonia, who is the longest shot in the field at 30-1.

“I wish she was 50-1,” co-owner Ron Paolucci said. “The way she works and trains, she thinks she’s 3-5.”

She will try to become the first filly to win the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra beat the boys in 2009. Like Rachel, Ria Antonia did not run in the Derby first. She finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks, held the day before the Derby. After the Oaks, Ria Antonia’s owners switched trainers, dumping Baffert for Tom Amoss.

“I always wanted to run in this race,” Paolucci said. “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.”  

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

There is a trio of 20-1 shots in the field. One of them, Kid Cruz, is trained by Linda Rice, giving the Preakness a female trainer, jockey and filly in the same race for the first time.

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.

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