Different Triple Crown race, same result.
California Chrome once again distanced himself from the pack and followed up his win at the Kentucky Derby with a victory Saturday at the Preakness Stakes, per Bleacher Report:
He's now one step away from becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. However, 12 horses have gone into Belmont since then with an eye on the honor, only to come up short in the final stage, per ESPN Stats and Info:
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
All told, a total of 34 horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, per Sporting News:
California Chrome is the first horse to win the Preakness from the No. 3 post position in over 20 years:
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
He entered as a the heavy favorite, which has often been a strong indicator of success at Pimlico:
The post-time favorite in the Preakness has finished first or second in 13 of the last 16 years. California Chrome is this year's favorite.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 17, 2014
Below are the top three finishers in the 2014 Preakness Stakes.
|Win||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza|
|Place||Ride On Curlin||Joel Rosario|
|Show||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras|
California Chrome ran a great race. His speed was never in doubt, but some wondered if the short track might allow other horses to keep pace with the three-year-old just long enough to steal the win.
Social Inclusion certainly gave California Chrome some trouble early in the race, but he fell off down the stretch. Ride On Curlin made a late surge in the last 300 yards, but California Chrome was simply too strong.
This race is built for speed, which is right up the colt's alley. The way in which he broke from the pack and held off Ride On Curlin demonstrated how quick he is. Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski admired how California Chrome blazed through Pimlico:
If we have the engine California chrome has off turn 4, these boys will be in trouble tonight. #dang— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) May 17, 2014
Of course, stamina may be a concern at Belmont, the longest track of the three Triple Crown races. The colt will have to run a much more manageable pace so as not to wear out around the final turn. USA Today's Dan Wolken and Dan Brooks of BrooksBaseball.net are both skeptical of California Chrome's chances:
Love California Chrome. Great horse. But man, I am really skeptical he can get 1 1/2 miles. Hope it happens.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) May 17, 2014
Fast horse. But probably big problems for the Belmont— Dan Brooks (@brooksbaseball) May 17, 2014
The New York Times pointed out that Big Brown mirrored California Chrome's path to Belmont, only to stumble in New York:
Trainer Art Sherman remains confident, though, that his horse will find a way to make it happen at Belmont, per Daily Racing Form:
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
No matter what happens, California Chrome has proved to be a huge money-maker for his owners, whom Larry Beil of ABC 7 News in San Francisco noted only paid $8,000 for the horse:
#CaliforniaChrome was purchased for only $8,000. Now a possible Triple Crown winner heading to Belmont Stakes— Larry Beil (@LarryBeilABC7) May 17, 2014
With most trainers opting to rest their horses ahead of the Belmont Stakes, the field in New York will be loaded, making it that much more difficult for California Chrome. Samraat and Danza look like two of his biggest challengers three weeks out.
Belmont has claimed plenty of Triple Crown contenders before, and given the length of the track, it will be California Chrome's toughest test to date. If he can pull through, his name will be etched in horse racing history forever.