California Chrome kept the dream of a Triple Crown alive as the Kentucky Derby winner once again was the best out there, winning the 2014 Preakness Stakes in impressive fashion.
The thoroughbred pulled away from the field down the stretch and held off Ride On Curlin to win in a time of one minute, 54.84 seconds. Bleacher Report provided a look at how close it was at the finish:
Social Inclusion also had an impressive race and ended in third place. Here is a complete look at the final order from Pimlico:
|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|
via NBC Broadcast
California Chrome was the overwhelming favorite heading into the race after winning two weeks earlier at Churchill Downs. However, his speed on display was still surprising to most who watched, including Courtney Fallon of NBC:
California Chrome was FLYING in stride down those final furlongs. Holy moly! Onto the Belmont!— Courtney Fallon (@CourtneyNBC6) May 17, 2014
Trainer Art Sherman noticed how much he was pushed down the stretch:
Art Sherman: "It's quite a thrill. I know he had to run harder, this race. He's a real racehorse."— KY Derby Contenders (@DerbyContenders) May 17, 2014
Even rival trainer Bob Baffert was impressed with the horse's performance:
Bob Baffert, trainer of Bayern, on Preakness hero California Chrome "This is a really good horse,he did it with ease. He's just so relaxed."— horseracinghl (@horseracinghl) May 17, 2014
Of course, Ride On Curlin deserves a lot of credit for making this a race in the final few lengths. Jockey Joel Rosario pushed his horse down the stretch to attempt to catch the leader, but he simply did not have enough left to reach Victor Espinoza and California Chrome.
There was a significant gap after the top two, but the battle for third was just as tough. Social Inclusion—which was considered by many to be the toughest competition for the favorite—eventually edged General a Rod for a third-place finish.
Ring Weekend was able to come through in fifth place, which does not matter much for most standings but is a big deal for the owners. Saturday was a huge day for the teams of each top horse as they were able to bring home quite a payday.
The purse increased from last year and is now a total of $1.5 million, leading to this breakdown of payouts following the race:
|1||3||California Chrome||Steve Coburn and Perry Martin||$800,000|
|2||10||Ride On Curlin||Daniel J. Dougherty||$400,000|
|3||8||Social Inclusion||Rontos Racing Stable Corp.||$170,000|
|4||2||General a Rod||Starlight Racing, Skychai Racing||$80,000|
|5||4||Ring Weekend||West Point Thoroughbreds||$50,000|
Still, the story of the day is the great performance of California Chrome. He will hope to keep this momentum going into the Belmont Stakes in a few weeks as he tries to become the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown.
Of course, a number of other challengers have come this close, as noted by ESPN Stats and Info:
California Chrome is the 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
If he can run as well as he did in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, he should be able to keep up his winning ways and take home the title at Belmont.
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