California Chrome did it again.
After another flawless performance, the California-bred colt took the second leg of the Triple Crown in dominant fashion at the 2014 Preakness Stakes.
With both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness now under his best, California Chrome will look to become the first horse to win the coveted Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
However, it won't be easy, according to a tweet from SportsCenter:
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
If any horse has a chance to break the 36-year Triple Crown drought, California Chrome appears to have what it takes—especially with jockey Victor Espinoza on the reins.
After a great break from the No. 3 gate on Saturday, Espinoza settled California Chrome just behind the leaders in the same manner as he did during the Kentucky Derby.
The pace was fast, but that wasn't a problem for California Chrome. He held his position through the far turn and made his signature burst down the backstretch.
With a great amount of endurance and closing speed on display, California Chrome quickly found himself well in the front of the pack. He continued his blazing pace, fending off a late-surging Ride On Curlin to take the Preakness victory by 1 1/2 lengths.
Upon the race's conclusion, Bleacher Report tweeted California Chrome's blazing unofficial time:
Here's a look at California Chrome's sparkling performance:
That's a Triple Crown-worthy performance, indeed.
Once the dust settled at Pimlico, here's how the final results stood:
|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|
After the race, Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form caught up with 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman, who spoke about his confidence in California Chrome going forward, according to this tweet:
Sherman increasingly confident CC can pull off Triple Crown: "I think I've got the right horse...they better have their running shoes on."— Jay Privman (@DRFPrivman) May 18, 2014
Even though the full field of contenders has not yet been set for the Belmont Stakes, we have a very strong idea of which horses will compete against California Chrome, according to these tweets from DRF Derby:
(4/4) Newcomers to Triple Crown series in #Belmont would be Tonalist + Commissioner, who ran 1-2 in G2 Peter Pan at Belmont— DRF Derby (@DRFDerby) May 18, 2014
Looking at this strong list of contenders, the third jewel of the Triple Crown will certainly be California Chrome's most difficult test yet.
Ride On Curlin gave himself a great chance down the final furlong on Saturday, and he could be a big factor in Belmont. Commanding Curve did the same at the Kentucky Derby and should be one of the favorites as well.
It's tough to count out Wicked Strong as well. He finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby but faced the difficult task of making up ground after starting at the far outside position.
Newcomer Tonalist may bring quite a surprise to the field as well. He's already wont at Belmont in the Peter Pan Stakes.
Here's a look at his performance:
This will be a strong field, indeed.
It's rather difficult to put together a list of predictions before the post positions have been set. Although, it's never too early to speculate.
Here's a very early look at how the 2014 Belmont Stakes could shake out:
|5||Ride On Curlin|
Sean O'Donnell's Predictions
Of course, we'd all love to see California Chrome take the Triple Crown victory—it's been far too long since that feat has been accomplished.
Aside from Tonalist, California Chrome has one big advantage over the race's other top contenders: He's beaten them all before.
It won't be long until we find out if he can do it again.