Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King
California Chrome will be the odds on favorite in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday after a dominating win in the Kentucky Derby. It was a visually impressive performance but not a very fast performance.
If you believe that time doesn't matter than there's no reason to bet against California Chrome. I believe time matters and while I'll still use California Chrome in the Pick 5, the only bet on the Preakness wagering menu offering player friendly takeout rates, I'll also be looking at the rest of the field to find some alternatives in case he misfires or isn't fast enough.
The most likely upsetters in most people's minds are new shooters Bayern and Social Inclusion, two horses I labeled as vulnerable favorites in their recent races. Bayern was sent off as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby after a blowout win in an allowance race in which he set an average and uncontested pace. In the Arkansas Derby he was forced to run faster early and was pressured and he faded late. Social Inclusion had an identical pattern entering the Wood Memorial and had the same outcome. Adding the speedy Pablo Del Monte to the mix ensures an honest pace in the Preakness and neither Bayern or Social Inclusion has run fast early and fast late.
Ride On Curlin will likely take some money after a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby. Swithing to Joel Rosario will only hurt his price. He will need to run the race of his life to win the Preakness and at short odds I'm not willing to pay to find out if he can do it.
My search for a long shot upsetter starts with Kentucky Derby also ran General A Rod. He was farther off the pace than usual and endured a rough trip but still finished in midpack. In the Preakness he figures to sit in the garden spot behind the three aforementioned pace setters. He also has a speed figure pattern that points to a rebound to a new top, which could be good enough to win the Preakness at a big price.
The new shooter to the Triple Crown that I like most is Dynamic Impact. In his most recent start he won the Illinois Derby earning a competitive speed figure. He earned a lifetime best speed figure when stretched out to nine furlongs in that race and based on his breeding should only get better as the races get longer. If he moves forward again he is capable of beating California Chrome on his best day.
The final long shot that I think has a chance to take home the Black Eyed Susan's is local horse Kid Cruz. He isn't fast enough but he has two things in his favor. First he has a win over the track and second he will benefit more than any other horse if the pace collapses. Kid Cruz will likely be last early and will make one big run in the stretch. If all the pieces fall into place he could be the first local winner of the Preakness since Deputed Testamony in 1983.
If California Chrome reverts back to his San Felipe or Santa Anita Derby performances he will be tough to beat. If he regresses again or runs to the same speed figure he did in the Kentucky Derby he will be a highly vulnerable odds on favorite. While I'll be rooting for him to win the Preakness, I'll also be betting against him.