California Chrome a heavy favorite in Preakness

California Chrome a heavy favorite in Preakness
California Chrome works out with exercise rider Willie Delgado and assistant trainer Alan Sherman before a morning workout at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore ahead of the 139th Preakness Stakes. (Lloyd Fox / McClatchy-Tribune)

California Chrome continued his charmed existence on the road to the Triple Crown of horse racing Wednesday by drawing a favorable No. 3 post position for Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

The race, 1 3/16 miles run at venerable Pimlico track for a $1.5-million purse, is the second leg of racing's beloved and elusive trifecta. This year's Preakness is the 139th.


California Chrome, who has won his last five races by a total of 26 lengths, including his 13/4-length coasting-home victory at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, was installed as the 3-5 morning-line favorite. If those odds remain, there will be nothing like the wagering bonanza that resulted in his 5-2 departure from the gate at Churchill.

California Chrome's trainer, 77-year-old Art Sherman, had indicated his draw preference was the No.5 post position. But that was more out of superstition than need.

"I'm sticking with the No.5," he said Wednesday morning. "We won the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby out of the 5 hole, so it has been good to us."

But when he drew No. 3, Sherman indicated that was fine, that there should not be a congestion problem in a 10-horse field.

"My horse is kind of push-button," Sherman said, meaning he is versatile enough to go with the flow.

Social Inclusion drew the eighth position and was installed as the second choice at 5-1, followed by Bayern at 10-1 in the No. 5 post and Ride On Curlin at 10-1 out of the outside post.

Lady's day?

In the previous 138 Preaknesses, the favorite has won 70 times. Rachel Alexandra was the most recent, winning in 2009. She was also the most recent filly entrant until this year's Ria Antonia, who was moved from Bob Baffert's barn to Tom Amoss' after running sixth in the Kentucky Oaks on May 2. She will break from the No. 6 post and was accorded the longest odds in the race at 30-1.

When Rachel Alexandra won, she was ridden by Calvin Borel. Ria Antonio will also be ridden by Borel.

In and out

Baffert will have a horse in the race. He trains Bayern, who didn't break his maiden until mid-January at Santa Anita and was ridden to his first two wins and a third by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. But Bayern will be ridden this time by Rosie Napravnik, who won her first race at Pimlico in 2005 and who rode Untapable to an impressive victory in the Kentucky Oaks.

Stevens doesn't have a ride in this race after taking Oxbow wire-to-wire last year. Oxbow was trained by Wayne Lukas, who also doesn't have a horse in the race. Lukas has a record 40 Preakness starters and six winners, second on the all-time list behind Robert Walden's seven in the late 1890s.


Only three horses that started in the 19-horse Kentucky Derby are back to try it again in the Preakness. They are California Chrome, General A Rod and Ride On Curlin. ... California Chrome, the fourth Cal-bred to win the Derby, would be only the fifth Cal-bred to win the Preakness, after Old England in 1902, Kalitan in 1917, Candy Spots in 1963 and Snow Chief in 1986. Snow Chief was ridden by Alex Solis, a recent selection into racing's Hall of Fame, and trained by a Southern California favorite, the retired but never retiring Mel Stute.