The field for this year's Preakness Stakes is relatively diverse compared to previous races, with a filly included in the mix for the first time in several years. The coveted number three position has produced ten winners out of the 138 runnings of the race, which takes place on a 1 3/16 miles track at the historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Sherman and Espinoza hope to make Saturday's run the eleventh win in that position.
Co-owner Steve Coburn also shares Sherman's enthusiasm. "I'm thinking this is a Triple Crown year."
Only eleven horses have previously gone on to become Triple Crown winners. The last one was Affirmed in 1978.
California Chrome is different from other Triple Crown hopefuls in previous years. He is riding high on a five race winning streak. Also, many racing analysts believe that this year's Preakness has a weak field, which will only help the strongest horse to claim victory. Even while he is hopeful of seeing his horse cross the line first, Art Sherman was still surprised by the favorable odds.
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"I never thought I'd see those kinds of numbers," he said. "I was predicting 6-5."
Fast runner Social Inclusion is the second favorite with 5-1 odds. The horse is in the eighth starting position. Despite having skipped the Kentucky Derby race, the colt is still seen as strong competition for California Chrome. In total, California Chrome is facing seven new horses, so there is degree of uncertainty among fans that anything can still happen.
Social Inclusion's owner Ron Sanchez says he isn't intimidated by any other horse's record, including California Chrome. "We're not afraid of anything." He later added that the eighth post may give his horse the needed advantage to ultimately pull off an upset.
Both Ride On Curlin and Bayern are tied as the third favorites with 10-1 odds. Bayern is trained by Bob Baffert, who is pursuing his sixth win at the Preakness this weekend. The colt's jockey will be Rosie Napravnik, who seeks to become the first female rider to ever win the race.
Ride on Curlin previously finished a disappointing seventh in the Kentucky Derby, but a last minute change to jockey Joel Rosario is helping to spark interest in this horse once again. The previous jockey, Calvin Borel, will instead be riding Ria Antonia this Saturday.
The change-up doesn't bother Ron Paolucci, who is still excited about his horse Ria Antonia's prospects. "I wish the odds were even higher against her," he said. "The way she is training out there, she must think she's a 3-5 instead."
If Ria Antonia does indeed pull off an upset on Saturday, she will become the first filly to win the race since 2009's Rachel Alexandra. Like the previous filly to win, Ria sat out the Derby. She placed sixth at Kentucky Oaks, which was run the day before the Derby. After the disappointing run at Oaks, Ria's owners also hired new trainer Tom Amoss.
"This is my dream to run the race," Paolucci said. "My filly is solid. She's big. She's going to have the edge."
General A Rod is the only other horse besides California Chrome and Ride on Curlin to have run at the Derby, where he ultimately finished eleventh place. He is a long shot along with three other horses.
There are several 20-1 long shots in the field, including Kid Cruz, notable for being trained by Linda Rice. Pablo Del Monte and Ring Weekend are the other two horses with 20-1 odds.
Dynamic Impact landed the unfavorable first spot, which many trainers fear drawing because of the chance their horse may get trapped inside. Dynamic is this year's Illinois Derby winner, but many experts feel that he is simply outmatched by stronger competition at this year's Preakness.
Officials at Pimlico determined the starting positions by using a blind drawing in order to ensure fairness and transparency. The Preakness is limited to a maximum of just fourteen entrants each year. Ten horses are scheduled to run at the 139th Preakness Stakes, and their post positions are as follows:
First: Dynamic Impact
Second: General A Rod
Third: California Chrome:
Fourth: Ring Weekend
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