California Chrome raced to a triumph at the 2014 Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore to take home a major payday.
Not the afterthought it used to be, the middle leg of the Triple Crown upped the stakes this year with more cash payouts to the winners. Which means the top five horses, jockeys, trainers and owners took home significant coin for their efforts.
Ride On Curlin and Social Inclusion came in second and third place, respectively. That made the action more entertaining than most could have predicted, but California Chrome found a new gear late to ensure the talk of the globe is the upcoming Belmont Stakes.
Here is a look at the final order, followed by the new and improved purse earnings and a breakdown of Saturday's action.
|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|
|First||California Chrome||Steve and Carolyn Coburn and 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|
It's on to the Belmont Stakes on June 7 at Belmont Park in New York for California Chrome, who becomes horse No. 34 in history to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown, as Daily Racing Form notes:
Trainer Art Sherman is one of many who hopes California Chrome has what it takes early next month:
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
Jockey Victor Espinoza, who remains undefeated atop California Chrome, echoed those sentiments, via USA Today's Gary Mihoces:
"I hope OK. You never know until he runs but it seems like he's going to be all right. A little bit more time, he's going to get back his energy. And you know what? We'll get it done."
As one might expect, California Chrome is a heavy favorite in comparison to the rest of the field, as ESPN's RJ Bell captures:
California Chrome is a favorite to win the Triple Crown (-130 at Sportsbook.ag) - rest of Belmont field +100— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) May 17, 2014
Danonymous Racing provided an early look at the contenders with sound odds:
Second-place finisher Ride On Curlin appeared momentarily to have a shot at first place on Saturday before fading. One can almost go as far as to suggest California Chrome faded down the stretch and will struggle on a longer track in New York, but that's still a stretch considering the rest of the field sans one was so far behind.
NorthJersey.com's Art Stapleton put it best:
At this rate only thing in NYC that can keep California Chrome from winning Triple Crown is Terry Collins refusing to play him. #FreeLagares— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) May 17, 2014
It's easy to forget that California Chrome entered Saturday the winner of five straight by a combined 26 lengths. Espinoza played the field perfectly in the early goings Saturday to get through traffic, while his horse did the rest.
So it's no surprise the odds are so favorable for California Chrome. Like any other Triple Crown event, a sleeper who did not participate in the other events can shock the field, but one has to feel confident in the safe money that has continuously been provided by California Chrome.