The race boils down to four key questions:
Will California Chrome continue to run at a high level or will the constant exertion tarnish his form?
If he runs his best race, he is likely very hard to beat. But it’s hard to know whether that will happen. All the time, horses don’t run well who were supposed to be contenders. They are not machines. If he falters, it opens up the race.
Will there be greater pace in this race than the Derby?
The general thought is that there will be, but this is always a dangerous question. Jockeys can see the presence of pace on paper before the race, and this young horse may be able to adopt a new style. So, it’s an imperfect and risky base for your handicapping.
How much will Kid Cruz (#7, 20-1) be able to close at Pimlico?
The Preakness has a reputation as a front-running race, but horses can close at route consistently in Baltimore. If Kid Cruz is good enough, and he’d have to improve to do so, then he could. Certainly have to like him to hit the board.
Is Social Inclusion (#8, 5-1) better than California Chrome?
He ran with a blistering pace in the Wood Memorial after a sensational effort at Gulfstream where we soundly beat the highly-regarded Honor Code. He missed the Derby by finishing third in that race — otherwise, he would likely would have been a factor there. He’s plenty fast, and if the pace is lighter, he very well may have more in the tank than California Chrome.
How you answer these questions should help you find your horse for Saturday’s Preakness!