Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Social Inclusion a speedy threat to California Chrome in Preakness

Exercise rider Domingo Navarro guides Social Inclusion, the solid 5-1 second choice in the 10-horse Preakness field, over the Pimlico track this week.

Getty Images

Exercise rider Domingo Navarro guides Social Inclusion, the solid 5-1 second choice in the 10-horse Preakness field, over the Pimlico track this week.

BALTIMORE — One of the most documented story lines for one of the leading Preakness Stakes contenders goes as follows: A brilliant victory on the Kentucky Derby trail sparks seven-figure offers his owner brazenly rejects, in part because he doesn't want someone pulling the colt from the venerable trainer who deserves to finally condition a classic contender.

That scenario most famously applies to Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, whom many expect to have his way with his nine challengers in Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

Social Inclusion happens to share the same yarn. And owner Ron Sanchez is telling all who will listen that if California Chrome wants to head to the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown in the balance, he's going to have to go through his horse.

Of the "new shooters" scheduled to face California Chrome in the 13/16-mile Preakness Stakes, Social Inclusion arguably presents the biggest fear factor for racing's reigning rock star. Installed as the 5-1 second choice on the morning line, the front-running Social Inclusion has garnered a boatload of hype in just three career starts. His early brilliance had some ready to deem him a divisional favorite a little more than a month ago.

On April 5 — the same day California Chrome stamped himself the favorite for the first Saturday in May with his 51/4-length win in the Santa Anita Derby — Social Inclusion was in position to steal thunder for himself when he went into the Grade I Wood Memorial as the 7-5 favorite after defeating Remsen Stakes winner Honor Code by 10 lengths in track-record time in a 11/16-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park March 12.

With his colt winning his first two starts by a combined 171/2 lengths, Sanchez rejected multiple high-dollar offers for Social Inclusion.

It's a move he maintains he had no regret over after the bay colt finished third in the Wood Memorial, missing out on a guaranteed spot in the Kentucky Derby — especially when Social Inclusion developed a foot bruise in his right front that forced him to scratch from the Sir Bear Stakes on May 3.

"It was very disappointing not to be in the Derby, but I think it was better for the horse, because running the horse in the 20-horse field is not what you want for the horse if you want to keep them healthy," said Sanchez, who races under the name Rontos Racing Stable. "That day (in the Wood) we learned that sometimes things happen for a reason and our main goal was coming to the Preakness.

"He has more experience now. He is showing us he deserves this chance."

Similar to California Chrome's connections, who turned down an offer of $6 million for 51 percent of the horse after the Santa Anita Derby, Sanchez says he did not want a new owner coming in and moving Social Inclusion out of the barn of his 85-year-old trainer, Manny Azpurua.

The soft-spoken Azpurua has saddled more than 3,500 winners in his native Venezuela and nearly 950 since 1979 in the United States. And where California Chrome's Art Sherman became the oldest trainer to win the Derby at 77, Azpurua would become the oldest to saddle a Preakness victor if Social Inclusion runs to his early form Saturday.

"Let me tell you, I believe this horse is special," Azpurua said. "He's a very smart horse, I believe the rider can do with him whatever he wants to. He likes to go to the lead and … he likes this track, the way he's moving, the way he is galloping."

Sanchez said of Azpurua: "I owe everything to him. He knows the horses, he loves the horses. On Saturday everybody will start feeling more respect about him."

Preakness field

Post position, horse's name, jockey's name and odds:

1.Dynamic ImpactMiguel Menna 12-1

2.General a RodJavier Castellano 15-1

3.California ChromeVictor Espinoza 3-5

4.Ring WeekendAlan Garcia 20-1

5.BayernRosie Napravnik 10-1

6.Ria AntoniaCalvin Borel 30-1

7.Kid CruzJulian Pimentel 20-1

8.Social InclusionLuis Contreras 5-1

9.Pablo Del MonteJeffrey Sanchez 20-1

10.Ride On CurlinJoel Rosario 10-1

Trainers (by post position): 1, Mark Casse. 2, Mike Maker. 3, Art Sherman. 4, Graham Motion. 5, Bob Baffert. 6, Tom Amoss. 7, Linda Rice. 8, Manny Azpurua. 9, Wesley Ward. 10, William Gowan.

Owners (by post position): 1, St. Elias Stable. 2, Starlight Racing & Skychai Racing, LLC. 3, Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin. 4, Loooch Racing Stable. 5, John Oxley. 6, Kaleem Shah, Inc. 7, Black Swan Stable & Vina Del Mar. 8, Rontos Racing Stable Corp. 9, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith, Michael B. Tabor, Wesley A. Ward. 10, Daniel J. Dougherty.

Weights: 126 each. Distance: 13/16 miles. Purse: $1 million. First place: $600,000. Second place: $200,000. Third place: $110,000. Fourth place: $60,000.

Social Inclusion a speedy threat to California Chrome in Preakness 05/15/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2014 9:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Red state: Yes, Bill O'Reilly is a Bucs fan

    Blogs

    TAMPA -- The question was simple enough for Bucs fans: Why is former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly wearing a red Bucs polo?

    O'Reilly was wearing the polo during a few video clips from his "No Spin News" podcast posted on his website Monday, which was exciting news for some Bucs fans and not-so-exciting …

    Former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly was sporting a red Bucs polo during his "No Spin News" video podcast Monday. An assistant said the shirt was given to him by former Bucs tight end Dave Moore.
  2. For starters: Slumping LoMo, Dickerson not in Rays lineup tonight vs LHP

    Blogs

    1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson, two of the main slumpers in the Rays lineup, are not in tonight's lineup with the Orioles throwing LHP Wade Miley.

    Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.
  3. Ex-Buc Booger McFarland becomes ABC college football analyst

    Blogs

    Former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland is continuing his broadcasting rise by joining ABC's studio coverage for the upcoming college football season, ESPN announced Tuesday.

    Former Bucs lineman Booger McFarland (No. 92) will become an ABC studio analyst this college football season.
  4. Rank the top 10 Bucs players? Here's what fans said

    Blogs

    We mentioned this morning that is was a fun challenge, in response to Sports Illustrated's ranking of the NFL's top 400 players, to ask fans to rank their top 10 Bucs players.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston during last year's Bucs win against the Seahawks. Evans and Winston finished 1-2 in an informal Twitter poll of fans ranking their top Bucs players.
  5. Brain study examined 111 former NFL players. Only one didn't have CTE.

    Storm

    Researchers studying the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy found that 99 percent of the brains donated by families of former NFL players showed signs of the neurodegenerative disease, according to a new study published Tuesday.

    This combination of photos provided by Boston University shows sections from a normal brain, top, and from the brain of former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, bottom, in stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. According to a report released on Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, research on the brains of 202 former football players has confirmed what many feared in life -- evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a devastating disease in nearly all the samples, from athletes in the NFL, college and even high school. [Dr. Ann McKee | BU via AP]