Is there value in California Chrome?
BALTIMORE, MD (The Spread) – After he won the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, does California Chrome offer bettors enough value in the 2014 Preakness Stakes?
After watching California Chrome dominate the Derby, he is listed as a -160 favorite to win the Preakness. This is a heavy price to pay for a horse to win the race and I would like to look at the only other contender in the Preakness and discuss if California Chrome is actually worth the price of admission. Make no mistake about it, this is California Chrome's race to lose. If he runs his race, then nobody can beat him. I will also note that this is a weaker field running the Preakness as some of the better competition will sit this one out and wait for the Belmont to challenge California Chrome.
Social Inclusion is listed as +600 to win the Preakness, and I believe this will be California Chrome's biggest threat. After a pair of dominating victories in Gulfstream, Social Inclusion got out the gate slowly at the Wood Memorial and suffered his first loss. He did not race in the Derby, but appears to be ready to race after a 47 second half mile Monday morning after arriving at Pimlico for the Preakness. I will say his two wins were dominating and if not for a slow start out the gate at the Wood Memorial, I have to believe Social Inclusion would be a perfect 3-0. I like this horse to be a contender but I do not believe he is qualified to give California Chrome a true run for his money. His two wins were dominating and in the Wood Memorial, he fought to the end even after a slow start. I know Social Inclusion is going to fight hard to the finish and that's what it will take to beat California Chrome, but I still don't think it will be enough.
Now it is time to decide is it worth to take California Chrome -160 to win the race. Remember this is a weaker field and there are several horses sitting this one out that could be a potential threat. This is basically a race where the decision needs to be made whether or not we want to take what appears to be a for sure winner with California Chrome and pay a steep price or to try our luck and take Social Inclusion at +600 or even another horse that is more of a longshot.
I have looked at this field and honestly, as long as California Chrome gets out the gate clean, there will be nobody to challenge him. This should be a fast track and while Social Inclusion is built for speed, I still have to question whether this horse is ready to race on such a big stage. He had gotten startled at the Wood Memorial as he was jumpy and foaming between the back legs. There are just too many 'unknowns' for me to take a chance on this horse.
The Preakness will basically be decided by these two horses as I am not worried about the rest of the field. So while the -160 price might seem steep, I feel it is worth it as California Chrome has only one horse to worry about, and still he is a much better horse than Social Inclusion. I would even lean on paying -200+ on California Chrome to win this race so in closing, while initially the odds look to be expensive, I am seeing value in California Chrome to win this race convincingly versus a weak field as he will be getting prepared to win the Triple Crown in 2014.
It has been 26 years since we have seen a Triple Crown winner, but this year folks I do believe is the year that California Chrome does what has seemed impossible over the last 2 decades.