On the off chance there are fans somewhere around the globe that missed the 2014 Preakness Stakes, otherwise known as another case of sheer California Chrome dominance, the Internet is quite the tool to correct the issue.
Horse racing has captured the imagination of the globe once more thanks to the rags-to-riches story that is California Chrome, who was bred after a $10,000 investment.
Now, California Chrome spends his days blowing the competition out of the water, much to the financial gain of any smart enough to ride with him.
Thus was the case Saturday at Pimlico:
As for the overall leaderboard, let's just say it wasn't pretty:
|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|
The only real story to emerge is the sport's most dominant participant.
California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza destroyed the competition at Churchill Downs and did so again at the Preakness. A premature surge from Social Inclusion and a late, but also a tad too early push from Ride On Curlin, should not deter fans who wish to see a Triple Crown win.
That is the end goal. Co-owner Steve Coburn told the media after his horse's sixth consecutive victory, via Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun, that the ultimate prize is finally within reach:
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.
The biggest challenge lies ahead for California Chrome, though. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports notes wise words from legendary trainer Bob Baffert, which certainly applies to Coburn's horse:
Trainer Bob Baffert, who has won nine Triple Crown races – three Derbies, five Preaknesses and one Belmont – once said that if you have the fittest horse on Derby day, you should still have the fittest horse two weeks later at the Preakness. A trainer doesn't need to do much to maintain that advantage. But the hard part is keeping the horse at or near that physical peak for another three weeks – that's when things go wrong.
Cracks in the foundation of this year's potential Triple Crown winner have already been exposed. ESPN's Richard Durrett raises a question many have upon review of the film:
Perfect ride for California Chrome. Sure hope horse can handle Belmont distance. We'll be fun to watch.— Richard Durrett (@espn_durrett) May 17, 2014
The concern isn't so much that contenders like Ride On Curlin got close at certain points of the race. Rather, the main issue many seem to raise after the Preakness is if California Chrome has what it takes to tackle a longer track in New York.
But one has to remember the man in charge. As Pat Cummings of DubaiRaceNight.com illustrates, Espinoza knows a thing or two about getting the most out of his horse:
Victor Espinoza's rides on Cal Chrome have been nothing short of exceptional, always making sure he's in clear and with options. Superb.— Pat Cummings (@DubaiRaceNight) May 18, 2014
Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown?
Endurance management and positioning is in the hands of Espinoza in New York, as it was in Baltimore. After successfully negotiating the early traffic, the seasoned jockey did not even have to lower his whip to get California Chrome to kick into final gear on the home stretch.
Horses who were able to sit out of the Preakness in order to save up for Belmont may concern those who want a Triple Crown winner, but few serious contenders have such a strong jockey-horse duo. Many stables have shuffled jockeys on a race-to-race basis, while Espinoza has remained firmly on the best horse of all.
The road to Belmont Park will be littered with concern and overexaggeration, as was the path to Baltimore. Like the Preakness, the event in New York will surely be handled in a suave manner by the sport's best horse-jockey tandem.