Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome has been made the odds-on 3-5 favorite to win Saturday's $1.5 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. The chestnut colt will take on nine challengers, including one filly, in the 1 3/16-mile second leg of the Triple Crown.
Trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome will start from post 3 in the 10-horse field. This will be the first time the colt makes a start with less than four weeks between races.
"I really think two weeks from the Derby into the Preakness, I would've loved to have seen at least three," Sherman recently said. "I just think, it takes a horse about 11 days to completely recover out of a race, before they're blood level, everything is right, and it's pushing the envelope a little bit."
California Chrome, owned by Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, by winning the Preakness and Belmont Stakes on June 7 can become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
"I don't think you'll see him far off the pace," Sherman noted. "I'd like to have a little speed upfront, which the way the race looks like it's going to unfold; it looks like two to three speed horses in there. My personal, you know, experience of watching these races, if he can come out of there and be fourth going around the turn and fourth down the back side and have a clear path, you're going to see old Chrome perform."
The 77-year-old Sherman became the oldest trainer to ever win the Kentucky Derby and California Chrome became the first California-bred 3-year-old to claim the race since Decidedly in 1962. Espinoza can win his second Preakness, having first captured the race in 2002 aboard War Emblem.
California Chrome is undefeated this season in four starts for $2,337,800 and has won seven of 11 lifetime starts for $2,552,650.
The chestnut 3-year-old won the Santa Anita Derby on April 5 by 5 1/4 lengths in his final Derby prep. He began 2014 with a 5 1/2-length victory in the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita on Jan. 25 and won the San Felipe Stakes at the track by 7 1/4 lengths on March 8. He finished 2013 by winning the King Glorious Stakes by 6 1/4 lengths in Hollywood Park's final stakes on Nov. 22.
"He's run on three different racetracks already and won. I'm not making any excuses. If you've got the horse and he's got his kind of talent, you can run about anything," Sherman observed.
Representing the ladies will be Breeders' Cup winner Ria Antonia. Trained by Tom Amoss, the filly will start from post 6 with Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel riding. Borel won the race in 2009 with champion filly Rachel Alexandra. Ria Antonia is the 30-1 longshot in the field.
Ria Antonia, owned by Loooch Racing Stable and Christopher T. Dunn, is coming off a sixth-place finish to Untapable in the Kentucky Oaks on May 2. She began the year with a fourth behind Untapable in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds and was second behind Fashion Plate in the Santa Anita Oaks.
As a 2-year-old, Ria Antonia was declared the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race after finishing second. She was elevated to first following the disqualification of She's A Tiger to runner-up. Ria Antonia has earned $1,254,140 with two wins in eight starts and was voted Canada's 2013 champion 2-year-old filly.
Here is the field for the 139th Preakness Stakes in post position order: Dynamic Impact, 12-1, Miguel Mena; General a Rod, 15-1, Javier Castellano; California Chrome, 3-5, Victor Espinoza; Ring Weekend, 20-1, Alan Garcia; Bayern, 10-1, Rosie Napravnik; Ria Antonia, 30-1, Calvin Borel; Kid Cruz, 20-1, Julian Pimentel; Social Inclusion, 5-1, Luis Contreras; Pablo Del Monte, 20-1, Jeffrey Sanchez and Ride On Curlin, 10-1, Joel Rosario.
Post time for the Preakness will be approximately 6:25 p.m. ET.
The weather for Saturday will be partly cloudy with a 10 percent chance of rain and a post time temperature near 69.