The 140th Preakness Stakes took place in Baltimore this past weekend. Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah, his jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Bob Baffert were all looking for a win to keep the hope of a rare Triple Crown alive.
The Triple Crown is awarded if a horse wins all three major horse races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. There has not been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed completed it in 1978. However, there have been seven horses that have put themselves in a position to do it by winning the first two races, but ultimately all failed at the Belmont Stakes.
The conditions for this year’s Preakness Stakes were far from ideal as heavy rain hit the course 15 minutes before the race. Despite the record attendance this year, many from the crowd may have missed the race as they looked for cover during the rain.
American Pharoah was the favorite to win the race, but there were still a few concerns for the trainer and jockey. First, American Pharoah was starting from the rail where no horse has won since 1994.
Adding to that was the rain. American Pharoah has sensitive ears and they put cotton in his ears before each race, and trainer Bob Baffert showed his concern about how the rain might have an impact when he said, “These horses, I could tell they didn’t like it when they got pelted like that. I was worried about the cotton balls in his ears. What if they’re getting soaking wet?”
Once the race started, however, there was almost no doubt that American Pharoah was going to win. In the Kentucky Derby, he got off to somewhat of a slow start before just pulling ahead in the final leg of the race. At Preakness, American Pharoah led from the start and then dominated the last leg of the race to win comfortably by the sixth largest margin in the history of Preakness.
His dominance has many expecting that he will complete the Triple Crown. Ron Turcotte, who raised Secretariat to the Triple Crown in 1973 said, “There is no denying American Pharoah was impressive today and we should all savor his performance. The sport needs a Triple Crown winner and he could very well be the one.”
A Triple Crown win would be the crowning achievement not only for American Pharoah, but for his trainer and jockey too. This is the fourth time that trainer Bob Baffert is heading into the Belmont stakes with a chance at a triple crown and the third time jockey Victor Espinoza is, with neither being able to complete it yet. All eyes will be on American Pharaoh at the Belmont Stakes on June 6 with many of them hoping to see history be made.