Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the 2014 Preakness Stakes

The second leg of the Triple Crown is always a fun one because of two reasons: 1) The Kentucky Derby winner gives us hope that a horse might actually win the Triple Crown for the first time since 1978 2) The Preakness is the best party of the three Triple Crown races for those attending. California Chrome comes into this rice with much hype after winning the Kentucky Derby as the favorite. As with his other races, Chrome got to the top of the stretch, hit the extra gear, and left his competition in the dust. Maybe this is finally the year.

Chrome will look to become the ninth horse in the last 27 years to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown and give us a Belmont Stakes full of anticipation. Two years ago, I’ll Have Another provided that hope until he came up injured the week of the race and didn’t even run. But first things first, Chrome needs to take care of business on Saturday against a field that looks pretty weak.

The weather is expected to be nice on Saturday in Baltimore, so we don’t have to worry about any tricky elements. Social Inclusion and Bayern are expected to set a hot pace while Chrome bides his time and gets ready to make a charge once they hit the top of the stretch. But will be the pace be so hot that Chrome can get caught from behind? This guy says no, but that’s why they run the race.

I had a decent handle of the Derby, but I tried to bet against the favorite. Three of my top 5 predicted horses ended up in the top 5, which isn’t bad considering what a shit show the Derby can be. But the Preakness is the chance for some redemption. Here’s a look at all 10 horses running on Saturday:

1 – Dynamic Impact – 12-1 
Winning the Illinois Derby is no longer considered meaningful in regards to qualifying for the Kentucky Derby despite War Emblem winning both races in 2002. While that’s not necessarily fair, I’ll side with the Derby on this one and say Impact isn’t good enough to compete in this race.

2 – General a Rod – 15-1 
Expecting to be close to the front at the Derby, the General found himself towards the back and never made up ground. While he should be closer to the front tomorrow, I don’t like that he didn’t make up ground in the same manner that someone like Ride on Curlin did and I’ll probably leave him out of the picture for my exotics.

3 – California Chrome – 3-5 
He’s going to win. The question is by how much and who comes in behind him. Get ready for the Triple Crown hype train. This horse looks that good and has the extra gear that no other horse can match.

4 – Ring Weekend – 20-1 
He chose the road less traveled after winning the Tampa Derby in March and it didn’t work out so well. He came up short in his last race and then came down with a fever before the Derby. It probably was for the best since he’s not much good.

5 – Bayern – 10-1 
One of expected main pace setters on Saturday, Bayern should have a chance to get in the money. His only loss was to Danza, who ran well on Derby Day. Sure, he didn’t look great in his last start, but that was off a two week rest. I’m a little concerned he’s running back again after only three weeks, but he has the ability to be near the front and hang on to be in the top three. He’d be best suited to let Social Inclusion get the lead and just hang back a little.

6 – Ria Antonia – 30-1 
It’s nice that a filly wants to compete with the boys, but this isn’t even a good filly. She finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks, the race for fillies on Derby weekend. Next.

7 – Kid Cruz – 20-1 
He’s got a win over Pimlico, his home track, which is nice. He has a chance to pick off horses in the final stretch is the pace is super-fast, but I don’t think the race is really long enough for him to get into the top four.

8 – Social Inclusion – 5-1 
He’s expected to lead the race in the same manner that he led the Wood Memorial. On that day he ran out of gas at the top of the stretch. Given that the pace wasn’t that fast and this race is slightly longer, what’s to say that won’t happen again? I do believe so.

9 – Pablo Del Monte – 20-1 
This horse almost ran in the Derby until his backing decided the day before the race that it wasn’t worth it. Now he’s in here. He does better on artificial surfaces, so maybe he should stick to those.

10 – Ride On Curlin – 10-1 
Ownership was not happy with what happened to Curlin in the Derby. Borel, as expected, took him right to the rail, but gave up so much ground that he couldn’t make it up. It didn’t help that he had no room to move until Borel swung him wide by the stretch. His competition knew to not let him move up the rail. He supposedly wasn’t tired at all after the race, so he should have a lot left to give. With a new jockey on board, look for him to be chasing Chrome to the wire.

1st – California Chrome 
2nd – Ride On Curlin 
3rd – Bayern 
4th – Social Inclusion

[Image via Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports]