California Chrome Gets Post 3 for Preakness
Owned by breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome will be ridden again by Victor Espinoza. He was assigned morning-line odds of 3-5 by Pimlico oddsmaker Keith Feustle in the 10-horse field.
"I feel good," trainer Art Sherman said after the post draw early in the evening of May 14. "I don't think post 3 will be an hindrance to him. Victor is a patient rider; he can play it by ear when the gates open."
The California-bred colt by Lucky Pulpit drew inside most of the horses expected to break quickly for early position in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. But California Chrome doesn't need the lead to win and is especially comfortable under Espinoza, who has ridden him to victory in his past five starts.
Sherman indicated the fact the colt is so heavily favored after his Kentucky Derby win is more of an obstacle than the post position.
"I think he'll have a big target on his back," Sherman said.
Social Inclusion, third in the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I), drew post 8 and is the second choice at 5-1 on the early line. Owned by Ron Sanchez' Rontos Racing Stable, Social Inclusion will be ridden by Luis Contreras. The Pioneerof the Nile colt has grabbed the lead early in all three of his starts and is expected to provide the early target Saturday.
"We'll be in good position in the early stages," Sanchez said. "My horse is more experienced now and he is multi-faceted. He has speed and strength. Everyone is impressed with California Chrome. I think he'll run a good race, but this is a better field (than the Kentucky Derby).
"Every owner here thinks they can beat California Chrome, but obviously the oddsmaker didn't think so."
The filly Ria Antonia, owned by Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing, is 30-1 on the morning line. She will be ridden by Calvin Borel from post 6.
Ria Antonia finished an even sixth in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), and few days later was transferred from trainer Bob Baffert to the barn of Tom Amoss. The filly's ownership team at that time expressed interest in running the Rockport Harbor filly in the Preakness, and made it official May 12.
"I think this is right up my alley and right up her alley," majority owner Ron Paolucci said. "Anybody who has watched her train (would think so). If she runs as half as good as she trains, I wouldn't want to trade places with anybody."
The last filly to win the Preakness was champion Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
Kaleem Shah's Bayern, disqualified from victory in the Derby Trial (gr. III) in his last start, will take blinkers off for the Preakness. He drew post 5 under Rosie Napravnik and is the co-third choice at 10-1 with Daniel Dougherty's Ride On Curlin, who drew the outside post 10 for trainer William Gowan and jockey Joel Rosario off his seventh-place finish in the Preakness.
"It's OK," Gowan said of the post position. "I'm an outside anyhow. I don't think (the post) is bad here. With the kind of pace we have in the field, I think it's fine."
Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable's Kid Cruz, a winner of back-to-back 3-year-old stakes in Maryland in his past two starts, drew post 7 under jockey Julian Pimentel at 20-1. Trainer Linda Rice, who claimed the colt for $50,000 from his final 2013 race, thinks he deserves a shot.
"He has obvously performed very well in his last two races, and we thought he deserves a chance in a race like this," Rice said. "We're probably in a better position with a closer like him in the Preakness than we would have been in the Derby with a 20-horse field.
"So, we're going to take a shot. He hasn't had a fast pace to close into yet, and I'm sure we're going to get one Saturday. So I'm excited."
When asked about the 20-1 odds—Kid Cruz was heavily favored in his last victory in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico—Rice said: "I hope it's too high! Way too high!"
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