Well, folks, we have the rare chance to watch history yet again. This Saturday, California Chrome goes for the first Triple Crown win since 1978. Wayniac Nation welcomes back The @SportIlluminati, our in house odds man and horse racing expert. Heim nailed the Preakness with his unique approach. This time, he gets even more creative. So, fire up the Batman signal and sit back and enjoy your Belmont Prediction Special, courtesy of the one and only Sport Illuminati:
There are ten horses looking to spoil the Triple Crown effort of California Chrome. On the surface, it’s hard to make a strong case for any of the others. Much like my favorite superhero Batman, what you see on the outside is a hard shell of what lies beneath. As with Batman, each of these horses present a little bit more than what appears. So, I am going to break down the participants of this race using the different actors who have played Batman over the years. In essence, each of these horses mirrors one of the actors in one way or another.
Ladies, gentleman, and those who don’t fit in to those categories at Wayniac Nation, I would very much like to introduce our newest guest writer and Horse Racing expert, The Sport Illuminati. Chris is an old friend of mine. When I say old, I mean we are the same Little League team 30 years ago! We also would go to the Meadowlands every Wednesday night in high school and he taught me everything I needed to know about the world of horse racing. We would win some money here and there, regardless of the fact that each week we both had to bet on Hooter J despite his inability to EVER win! When he approached me about having a Preakness piece on the Nation, I thought there would be no one better to deliver it. So without further ado:
THE @sportsilluminati PREAKNESS PREDICTION SPECIAL
The year was 1978. Hungry Hungry Hippos was all the rage, everyone’s favorite humble basketball player Kobe Bryant was born, and the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, won the Preakness. In honor of this accomplishment and that wonderful year, I have paired a 1978 movie with every horse in Saturday’s Preakness.
Dynamic Impact(12-1) The Deer Hunter: Much like this film, Dynamic Impact started his career off slow (lost first 3 races as a two year old) but has made an impressive go at it as of late winning two of his last three starts. Like the cast of this movie (Christopher Walken Robert De Niro Meryl Streep) Dynamic Impact will have staying power and at 12-1this horse can be an interesting play in exotic betting.
General A Rod (15-1) Foul Play: Although this horse didn’t impress in the Derby finishing 11th, he has a new jockey with Javier Castellano. That change will be significant as Castellano has won the Preakness riding Bernardini in 2006. Like the movie, General could be considered a mystery in this race with an undertone of comedic value. If he can get near the lead at the offset, we can see a laugher in the making. If this horse is going to win, it’s going to happen early and going away.
California Chrome (3-5)
Jaws 2: Will Chrome be one of the few horses that runs as well as his first big performance or will we see a bust in the making? He has a cough which the media is trying to make into a big deal (it isn’t), and his slow finish time at the Derby has raised a few eyebrows. The only real obstacle is his short rest time between races. Chrome is used to a month between races, not two weeks. I feel this horse hasn’t “jumped the shark” yet and could make chum out of this field.
Ring Weekend (20-1) Dawn Of the Dead: This horse has been a Florida staple this year winning the Tampa Bay Derby but losing as the favorite at the Calder Derby. Like this zombie classic, this horse has been dead to early bettors and will have to move faster than a zombie out of the gate if he has any shot of being in the mix.
Bayern (10-1) Grease: Bob Baffert is going light to the Preakness with only one entry and feels this speed horse has as good a shot as any. Rosie Napravnik is a Pimilico fixture and could use her familiarity to the track as an advantage. Like the movie, Bayern could draw female bettors with a female jockey aboard. This horse is “grease lightning” but needs to prove he can sustain that energy throughout a 1 3/16 mile.
Ria Antonia (30-1) Halloween: Late to the party, this long shot is looking to capture her first win as a three year old in the Preakness. While many people see this horse as a trick to bet considering her 6th place finish at the Oaks, the switch in jockey to Calvin Borel may be a treat to bettors. Borel is not adverse to winning big races with long shots. Ria Antonia hasn’t faced this group of horses before so the unfamiliarity may actually work to her advantage. She’s not scared by her competition.
Kid Cruz (20-1) Up In Smoke: Kid Cruz won his last race at Pimlico. To win this race, this field needs to come out of the gate fast so he can come from behind and dust them down the stretch. Like Cheech and Chong, Kid Cruz is a high-flying, low rider that can make bettors smile when all is said and done.
Social Inclusion (5-1) Animal House: Speed horse who comes to the party early. The question is whether he has the staying power to keep the pace down the stretch. A 3rd place in the Wood Memorial and best Beyer Speed of 108 will get bettors’ attention. This horse will factor and possibly upset a lot of the betting elite as he makes a mess of the parade when all is said and done.
Pablo Del Monte (20-1) I Spit On Your Grave: Trainer Wesley Ward held out this horse from the Derby to focus efforts on this race. Not a fan of dirt, Pablo Del Monte’s success has come on synthetic tracks. Always 2 steps behind his competition (2 third place finishes in 4 stakes races) Pablo will have to rise up to her enemies and find that eternal voice to slay them down the stretch. The problem is he is an early speed horse and that will be a tough task to accomplish.
Ride On Curlin (10-1) Superman: Much like the Superman saga, we have a 4th different jockey riding him in his last 4 races. Also like the Superman movies, we always go in expecting some high flying action but leave a bit disappointed by the results. What can make this trip any different? A small field of horses makes it easier for this horse to stay out of traffic which is its kryptonite. Off the pace or in the lead, the key for this horse is to see daylight throughout his ride.
My personal opinion is its going to take a wilted effort by Chrome and a spirited effort by anybody else to beat the heavy favorite. After his Derby performance, I am hard pressed to see California Chrome having trouble in this smaller field and shorter race. That said, anything can happen and I am looking to make a couple of $$. After hitting the $340 exacta at the Derby, I am going with another 4 horse $5 exacta box ($60 investment).
Predicted Final Finish:
3: California Chrome 6: Ria Antonia 10: Ride On Curlin 5: Bayern