California Chrome, winner of the 140th Kentucky Derby, will once again have the bull’s-eye on his tail as he will try to win the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. He has dominated his opposition in his past five stakes races, and my prediction is he should dominate once again. Only two of his defeated rivals in the Derby made the trip to Baltimore, and many of the new shooters are loaded with early speed, setting up the perfect trip for the favorite. Keying Chrome on top and finding some value underneath will be my strategy. Here are my top contenders for this year’s Preakness Stakes and my wagers:
CALIFORNIA CHROME has proven that he doesn’t need the lead and can sit back in the wind tunnel behind the expected gut-wrenching pace. Jockey Victor Espinoza can save the colt’s energy before pushing the go button. This 3-year-old is the most talented runner in the field and looks to be head and shoulders above the rest. His having never run on a muddy track would be my lone concern.
SOCIAL INCLUSION is all about speed and could be the “now” horse as the major threat to pull off the upset. He’s been stabled longer at Pimlico than the other hopefuls and has been training extremely well, including a bullet drill last workout. Slight cause for concern is coming off a bruised hoof, so time will tell if it has healed. Expect him to have company in a scrappy pace duel.
KID CRUZ keeps improving, and his last win was at Pimlico, giving him a slight edge over his rivals. With another step forward, look for him to roll late. This is his toughest test to date in the huge class move up.
RIDE ON CURLIN had a horrible trip and a not-so-great ride in the Derby. Positive jockey switch to Joel Rosario gives the colt another chance. Expect Rosario to sit closer to the pace with a much better trip. Would enjoy a sloppy track.
Bets: $20 exacta with 3 over 7, 8, 10 ($60); $1 trifecta 3/7, 8, 10/all, $1 trifecta 3/all/7, 8, 10 ($24 each, $108 total).