The 2014 Preakness Stakes certainly lived up to its billing on Saturday.
After winning the 2014 Kentucky Derby, California Chrome made anther huge stride toward history, winning the Preakness with yet another sparkling performance.
California Chrome got a great break out of the gate and quickly settled in near the front of the pack. This was a similar strategy to the one employed by veteran jockey Victor Espinoza during the Derby.
The pace was quick, but California Chrome didn't have a problem maintaining a solid position in the field into the far turn.
That's when Espinoza and California Chrome made their move.
They headed out wide—in roughly the same manner as their Kentucky Derby performance—and burst to the front of the pack after the far turn. California Chrome's endurance and closing speed were well on display, as he continued to increase his lead down the far stretch.
Ride On Curlin gave a solid effort to close the gap in the final furlong, but California Chrome was simply too strong and had too large of a lead to overcome.
Here's a look at the California-bred's dominating performance:
Once the dust settled, Pimlico's most prestigious race's final standings came to fruition:
|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|
One famous phrase comes to mind following the race's conclusion: To the victor go the spoils.
That is certainly the case for the top-five Preakness finishers and its $1.5-million purse.
Here's a look at the hard-earned cash received:
|2||1 1/2||Ride On Curlin||$300,000|
|4||8||General A Rod||$90,000|
|5||12 1/4||Ring Weekend||$45,000|
That's another big payday for California Chrome.
Now, California Chrome has his sights set on the coveted Triple Crown—a feat no horse has accomplished since Affirmed in 1978.
So far, California Chrome has already been defying the odds, according to a couple of tweets from ESPN Stats & Info:
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
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
That makes it quite difficult to count him out going forward.
Said Sherman, "I tell you, I wouldn't want to be in anyone else's shoes. I think the horse is a phenomenal horse. I know right now we're running on a high. But I think when we get to Belmont, this horse is going to run big. I really do."
Steve Coburn spoke with Walker as well. The brash cowboy hat-wearing owner was a little more direct:
The Triple Crown. I don't mean to be bold or cocky or arrogant, because I've said this. When I saw this colt, when I saw this baby when he was a day old, I told my wife, Carolyn, this horse is going to do something big. I don't know what it is, but we're going to stay in the game to make sure this colt gets to be the best that he can be. I've been a firm believer in that ever since, and he's not proven me wrong.
Can California Chrome end a 36-year Triple Crown drought?
Certainly, the Belmont Stakes will be a formidable test; however, from what we've seen from this spectacular horse so far, it's difficult to bet against him.