Picks by Bill Cloutier
This weekend's races, Saturday, May 17
Although time doesn't seem to be on California Chrome's side, there is little doubt that the California-bred colt deserves to be the odds-on favorite for Saturday's 139th running of the Preakness Stakes. The morning line chalk of 3-5 (in the field of 10) looks to continue his bid to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown. Lightly raced Social Inclusion is the second choice at 5-1.
California Chrome, who earned a Hot List grade of A in the Derby, is our top choice. Despite his dismal time of 2:03.66 (the slowest winning Derby time on a fast track since 1974), we're still pretty high on CC's Triple Crown chances. That's mainly because the rest of the 3-year-old class is a mediocre bunch at best, save for the filly Untapable, whose connections have shown no inclination to run against the boys. Trainer Art Sherman said that California Chrome took an instantaneous liking to the Pimlico surface and quickly regained the 35 pounds he lost in the Derby. "He started jogging as soon as he hit the track," Sherman said. It seems that his pedestrian time in the Derby and the limited rest between the first two jewels of the Triple Crown are his biggest hurdles.
Social Inclusion has no issues with the clockers. He set the track record in a March race at Gulfstream Park and has had over a month off since a solid outing in the Wood Memorial. Fresh horses frequently do well at the Preakness. Social Inclusion's only downside could be a bruised foot that forced him out of a race two weeks ago, and he is our choice for second place. We also believe that Ride On Curlin, who is just one of three Kentucky Derby horses to run back in the Preakness, figures to be in the mix. He's had valid excuses in his past two outings, including all kinds of trouble in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished seventh and seemed to have his best run down the stretch. He is our pick for third place.
General a Rod rounds out the superfecta. He, too, had a troubled trip at Churchill Downs, failing to hit the board for the first time in six career starts.
1. California Chrome (A)
2. Social Inclusion
3. Ride On Curlin
4. General a Rod
Last weekend's races