With a bump to a $1.5 million purse, the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes saw California Chrome race through the finish line first to claim the top prize in the middle leg of the Triple Crown.
The event at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, did much to match the preceding spectacle at Churchill Downs, and the new and improved purse is simply the cherry on top.
California Chrome's triumph will spark rampant Triple Crown discussion as expected, but the runner ups in second-place finisher Ride On Curlin and third-place finisher Social Inclusion have something to smile about as well thanks to the new purse.
Here is a projection for how the payouts will be distributed for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes:
|First||California Chrome||Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin||Victor Espinoza||$900,000|
|Second||Ride On Curlin||Daniel J. Dougherty||Joel Rosario||$300,000|
|Third||Social Inclusion||Rontos Racing Stable Corp.||Luis Contreras||$165,000|
|Fourth||General a Rod||Starlight Racing, Skychai Racing||Javier Castellano||$90,000|
|Fifth||Ring Weekend||West Point Thoroughbreds||Alan Garcia||$45,000|
The full details of the final order are as follows:
|1||3||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||-|
|2||10||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario||William Gowan||1 1/2|
|3||8||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||Manny Azpurua||8|
|4||2||General a Rod||Javier Castellano||Mike Maker||8|
|5||4||Ring Weekend||Alan Garcia||H. Graham Motion||12 1/4|
|6||9||Pablo Del Monte||Jeffrey Sanchez||Wesley A. Ward||14|
|7||1||Dynamic Impact||Miguel Mena||Mark E. Casse||15 3/4|
|8||7||Kid Cruz||Julian Pimentel||Linda Rice||15 3/4|
|9||5||Bayern||Rosie Napravnik||Bob Baffert||20 3/4|
|10||6||Ria Antonia||Calvin Borel||Tom Amoss||30 3/4|
As ESPN Stats & Info noted before the race, California Chrome was set to approach quite the milestone on Saturday:
California Chrome looking to become 13th horse to win first 2 legs of Triple Crown since 1978, when Affirmed was last Triple Crown winner.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 17, 2014
Entering Saturday, California Chrome had won five races by 26 lengths. Make that six in a row by a rather significant margin, as those behind in the proceedings did not stand a chance after the final turn.
Give credit where it's due to Ride On Curlin, as a serious push near the end of the race gave the globe the faintest doubts about a Triple Crown contender. It wasn't meant to be, but that second place can't sting too much after finishing seventh at Churchill Downs.
Like every horse in the proceedings, Social Inclusion did not stand a chance after the final turn. The third-place result still can't hurt all that bad, not because of the lofty purse, but because Social Inclusion was acting wild before the race.
Financially speaking, no group is happier than California Chrome's, who surpassed a significant milestone with the win on Saturday, as explained by ESPN's Darren Rovell:
California Chrome, bred for $10,000, has now earned more than $3 million on the track.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) May 17, 2014
Performance wise, California Chrome also managed to buck history:
California Chrome is the 1st horse to win the Preakness from the No. 3 post position since Prairie Bayou in 1993.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 17, 2014
Does California Chrome have what it takes to take down another historic milestone? Art Sherman sure hopes so, as he told the media after the race, via Daily Racing Forum:
Moments after race, Art Sherman tells NBC: "He's a real racehorse, and I'm hoping that the mile and a half is up his alley, too." #Preakness— DRF Derby (@DRFDerby) May 17, 2014
The final leg of the Triple Crown occurs at Belmont Park in New York on June 7. There, the sport's most dominant horse has a major chance to be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
By all accounts, it seems like a forgone conclusion. The Derby was ran slower than normal and the contestant pool in Baltimore on Saturday was not overtly competitive, but California Chrome remains the enormous favorite at Belmont Park until further notice.