Social Inclusion failed to qualify for the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, but the colt is a serious contender for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. Social is entering race day with 8/1 odds to win the Triple Crown’s second leg, trailing only favorite California Chrome (5/2) and Danza (7/1).
Here’s what you need to know about Social:
1. He Has an Impressive Pedigree
The 3-year-old thoroughbred descends from a male line gilded in recent Kentucky Derby history. His great-grandsire Unbridled won the Run for the Roses in 1990 before his grandsire Empire Maker (2003) and sire Pioneer of the Nile (2009) were both runner-up in the Kentucky Derby.
2. Manny Azpurua Is His Trainer
At 85 years old, Manuel J. Azpurua is the trainer for the Preakness contender. Azpurua is a native of Caracas, Venezuela where he trained over 3500 winners until 1979. He then moved to the United States where he has saddled over 1000 winners.
Jose Garoffalo, a fellow trainer from Venezuela who operates at Gulfstream Park told the New York Times:
He’s an institution here in South Florida. He’s a well-respected horseman and a great gentleman.
Azpurua has also trained Set n’ Go Set N’ Go, who finished 16th in the 1979 Kentucky Derby and graded stakes winner Extended Applause. Nightmare Affair, 2006 Breeders’ Cup Sprint third-place finisher trained under Azpurua too.
Racing quote of the day. Manny Azpurua, trainer of Wood 3rd place finisher Social Inclusion said "Next time he'll win; he'll kill them."
— Lane Gold (@lanegold) April 5, 2014
3. Luis Contreras Is His Jockey
Luis Contreras wins the Woodbine 6th with Malibu Skyline https://t.co/Z53cBrBqfZ
— Keith-TripleDeadHeat (@TripleDeadHeat) April 26, 2014
Contreras, a Mexico City native, began riding at age 16 in Mexico winning four consecutive campaigns with over 100 wins there from 2002-2006.
He moved to the U.S. in 2007 and to ride in Northern California and at Sunland Park in New Mexico. Contreras’ North America career drastically changed in 2009, when the prominent trainer Steve Asmussen sent Contreras to Woodbine for the first time as first-call rider.
The young jockey made history in 2011 by becoming the first to win the Canadian Triple Crown with different horses. Contreras totaled 220 victories and $12.3 million in purse earnings in 2011 alone, earning a 7th place rank in purse winnings in North America. Before that, his personal best was 175 wins and $6.2 million. Contreras won the riding title at Woodbine by 20 victories. He is currently ranked 35th in the world based on earnings this year according to Equibase Company.
— JockeyClubofCanada (@JockeyClubofCAN) April 11, 2014
4. Ron Sanchez Is His Owner
— Dennis Mills (@racing_future) May 13, 2014
Like trainer Manny Azpurua, Sanchez’s love of horse racing derived from his childhood in Caracas, Venezuela. As a kid, he attended races every weekend with his grandmother at La Rinconada which is the oldest and largest track in the country.
Sanchez told the Baltimore Sun:
I was five years old and we’d walk all the way to the track, it’s like two miles. I fell in love with horse racing. Once you get here [to the race track], it’s impossible to get out.”
Sanchez named his beloved horse after the late Portuguese writer and Nobel Prize winner, Jose de Sousa Saramago. At the age of 43, Sanchez will obtain his longtime goal at the 129th Preakness on Saturday when Social Inclusion hits the track.
Luis Contreras told the Baltimore Sun in an interview:
He likes to be here. He’s different [than many owners]. Most owners just talk to the trainer. He likes to talk to the jockey, the walkers, the grooms. He’s more connected.”
5. He Has Won 2 Races and Placed Third in Another
Social Inclusion first big win was at Gulfstream Park on February 22, along with another first place maiden race by 71 / 2 lengths with a particularly fast time. He faced Honor Code in his second start then considered a top contender for the Kentucky Derby, beating him by 10 lengths while breaking a track record.
I was impressed with his Wood. He got tired, but he was supposed to get tired. He’s going to be tough if he gets in the groove. The break is going to be so important with those speed horses, anyway, even California Chrome.”
— Mitch Friedmann (@mafriedtv) May 15, 2014
On Social Inclusion: "He looked like he loved the track," trainer Manny Azpurua said. "The way he handled the track was nice."
— Alan Bergins (@exacta45) May 9, 2014