BALTIMORE (Reuters) - The chances of
California Chrome extending his Triple Crown run received a boost on
Wednesday when the Kentucky Derby champion was given the number three
post for Saturday's Preakness Stakes.
Oddsmakers made the Art Sherman-trained colt, winner of all four
of his races this year, an overwhelming 3-5 favorite in the 10-horse
field at Pimlico Race Course.
"I thought 6-5 was probably more like it," said the 77-year-old
Sherman. "I can understand being the favorite but 3-5 is a lot of
weight on you."
At 5-1, the second choice in the early line is Social Inclusion, who
finished third in the Wood Memorial last month under Luis Contreras.
Trained by 85-year-old Manny Azpurua, the lightly raced bay will
break from the eight hole.
Co-third choices at 10-1 are Ride On Curlin, who finished seventh in
the Derby, and Bayern, runner-up of the Derby Trial last month with
Rosie Napravnik in the saddle.
Ride On Curlin will start from the outside 10 post, while Bayern
breaks from the five.
At 12-1 odds is Dynamic Impact, winner of the Grade III Illinois
Derby last month and one of only three Preakness starters who raced
in the May 3 Derby at Churchill Downs.
Social Inclusion owner Ron Sanchez was "a little concerned" about
the eight post "but not now, with Ria Antonia and Kid Cruz inside
with less speed and with two speed horses (Pablo Del Monte and Ride
On Curlin) outside, that'll help us.
"Every owner here thinks they can beat California Chrome but
obviously the oddsmaker didn't think so."
Sherman conceded that the numbers of his California-bred chestnut,
ridden by Victor Espinoza, explain why he's the clear front-runner.
"He's got the record," said the 77-year-old Sherman, who two weeks
ago became the oldest trainer ever to saddle a Kentucky Derby
champion. "He's come off some beautiful races.
"It's fun to watch a horse win but he's never been under a drive to
win, his last five races. He's been under hand and moved away from
the opposition. When I look at the charts, I see he's won by 25
lengths. It blows my mind."
California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn said the five post would
have been ideal for his modestly bred colt but was thrilled with
"The three hole is a good spot," he said. "It's a tighter race (than
the Derby). He'll be further away from the rail, if he holds his
line I feel really confident about where we are.
"We wanted anywhere from three out. So we feel really good about
Sherman said his post "might actually be an advantage for me."
"They have all the speed on the outside," he said. "It gives us an
idea of who will be sending (going to the front), we'll get into
that first turn with a good position and then down the backside pick
the spot where we want to be."
If California Chrome can win the Preakness, he will have a shot at
becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. The
third and final leg of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes in New
York on June 7.
(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg; editing by Julian Linden)