California Chrome entered the Preakness Stakes as the overwhelming favorite and lived up to expectations, pulling away from the field to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Jockey Victor Espinoza once again kept his horse near the front of the pack before charging late to the finish line ahead of everyone else.
Ride On Curlin provided an impressive challenge down the stretch and ended up less than two lengths behind the leader. However, he could not beat California Chrome's scorching pace of one minute, 54.84 seconds.
Social Inclusion was far off the lead but managed to come in third place. Here is a complete look at the final order at 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
The owners of California Chrome especially had a good day thanks in part to the boost in total purse for the Preakness Stakes. According to ESPN.com, the Maryland Jockey Club decided to increase the total payout from $1 million to $1.5 million.
Obviously, the winner will get the bulk of that money at about $800,000.
This is well-deserved after the horse ran an incredible race for the second time in a row. This is the sixth straight win for California Chrome. He was easily the favorite coming into Saturday, but this has not always led to success at Pimlico.
ESPN Stats and Info provides a look at how rare it is that a favorite comes away the winner:
California Chrome joins Big Brown (2008) & Smarty Jones (2004) as the only odds-on favorites to win the Preakness since 1980.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 17, 2014
With the latest win, all anyone wants to know is whether the thoroughbred can keep this up and win the Belmont Stakes. As SportsCenter notes, there have been quite a few failures since the last Triple Crown winner in 1978:
Lucky number 13? California Chrome is 13th horse to win both Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes since last Triple Crown in 1978.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 17, 2014
The past 12 horses to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown raised the hopes of fans only to crush them in the final leg in New York. However, California Chrome seems to be the exception to the rule.
One of the big differences is the horse's ability to come on strong late in the race. He pulled away from the field in each race and was able to hold off challenges from other horses who eventually came in second place.
While the Belmont is going to be a longer track, this does not seem like it will affect the talented horse. Trainer Art Sherman might have said it best, via David Selig of The Baltimore Sun:
Does @CalChrome have a chance to win Triple Crown? “I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t want to be in anyone else’s shoes right now,” Art Sherman said— David Selig (@DaveSelig) May 17, 2014
What is interesting about this horse is that it does not have the pedigree of the usual Triple Crown contenders. ESPN's Darren Rovell notes the relatively cheap cost of the horse compared to how much he has earned:
California Chrome, bred for $10,000, has now earned more than $3 million on the track.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) May 17, 2014
Meanwhile, the value of California Chrome's sire has soared:
The stud fee for California Chrome's sire Lucky Pulpit went from $2,500 to $10,000 with the Derby win. What will it be tomorrow?— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) May 17, 2014
Lucky Pulpit had an uneventful racing career, which could also be said about dam Love the Chase. The only way to find a legitimate background in the family is to keep moving up the line. Lucky Pulpit's sire was Pulpit, who earned fourth place at the 1997 Kentucky Derby. He was the son of 1992 Horse of the Year A.P Indy, who was the son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.
Still, this pedigree comes down to one just horse: California Chrome. The competitor is one win away from history but will have to compete against a bunch of familiar names at the Belmont:
If he can get off to a good start while Espinoza keeps the pace for the end, California Chrome should be able to keep his strong performances going and become the 12th horse ever to win the Triple Crown.
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