The second jewel of the Triple Crown series is
soon upon us, and we are left with hopes and anticipation of what lies
ahead. In the aftermath of the Kentucky Derby we have little room for
taking deep breaths with only a week away to the second leg of this incredible
journey. Only one horse in this field has the potential to become the next
Triple Crown winner and he will need to overcome a group of very fast horses
who will be running fast, and as far as they can. With a clear target on
their backs, it’s time to recharge and refocus for California Chrome and jockey
Victor Espinoza. Their journey together continues with the pursuit of the
crown, and giving racing fans hope on this quest for perfection. As the Preakness soon approaches, it will be a quick two-week
turnaround for horses that ran in the first Saturday in May.
So here are some interesting facts to get you up
close and personal with the next adventure that lies ahead:
1) The first
Preakness was held on May 27, 1873
2) The Preakness is
named after the horse that won the first stakes race ever run at Pimlico Race Course in 1870. The race was called the “Dinner Party Stakes” (now
called the Dixie Stakes). Preakness ran until his 8-year-old season.
Preakness was a high-strung animal and so was his new owner. He was
shipped to England for stud duty, but tragically died after an incident in his stall
3) Since 1909,
post-position 6 has produced the most Preakness winners with a total of 16
winners; with last year’s winner Oxbow being the most recent. In contrast,
no 'rail drawn' entrant has finished in the exacta since Tabasco Cat won
the race in 1994. Before that? It was in 1960 when Bally Ache won from
4) Since 1911, only 2
horses have won the Preakness at odds of 20-1 or more. Last year, Oxbow
won with odds of 15-1
5) In 1918, 26 horses
entered the race and it was run in two divisions, resulting in two winners
that year. Currently, the race is limited to only 14 horses
6) In 1948 the Preakness
was televised for the first time on CBS
6) The speed record goes
to Secretariat with 1:53. He was originally credited with a running
time of 1:55, but there was a discrepancy with what his actual finishing
time was clocked. It took 39 years to get this matter resolved. In
2012 the Maryland Racing Commission, based on testimony and analysis of
the race unanimously voted to change Secretariat's final time to 1:53.
This now stands as the record time for the Preakness Stakes
7) The Preakness has
been run at 7 different distances; today the race is run at a mile and
three-sixteenths, or 9½ furlongs, which is the shortest distance
in all three races of the Triple Crown series. The Kentucky Derby is
1¼ mile, (10 furlongs). Followed by the third leg, which is
the Belmont Stakes, at 1½ miles (12 furlongs)
8) The Preakness is run
on the third Saturday in May, two weeks after the Kentucky
Derby, and three weeks before the Belmont Stakes
9) I’ll Have Another in
2012 is the only Derby/Preakness winner in the last 5 years
10) The Preakness
'half-mile leader’ has finished first or second in four of the last five
years, including 2013 winner Oxbow and runner up Bodemeister
11) The Derby winner has
been made the Preakness favorite 9 of the last 13 years, with California
Chrome expected to once again be this year’s favorite in the race
12) The Preakness winner
gets a garland of black-eyed Susans draped on its’ neck, but the official
state flower of Maryland doesn't come into bloom until late June or July.
Instead they are substituted with yellow flowers that are daubed with
black lacquer to resemble black-eyed Susans
13) Since the history of
the Preakness there have been 5 fillies that have won this race with
Rachel Alexandra being the most recent in 2009. Rachel has also been the
only horse to win out of post- position 13. A filly in this year’s
Preakness? A strong possibility, with Ria Antonia connections pointing
her to this race. As of yet, she is still probable, but has not been
confirmed. She is no stranger to facing males and she would become the 54th filly to try her luck in the Preakness.
She is so far winless in three 2014 starts. Majority owner Ron Paolucci
would like to run her in the Preakness, and then in the Ohio Derby (g.
III), which is his home track. Originally trained by Jeremiah Englehart in
2013, she was switched to the barn of Bob Baffert, for whom she ran sixth
in the Santa Anita Oaks. Most recently she was moved to the barn of Tom
Amoss, since there is no races for her to run in California right now
14) In the last 4 years
the Preakness favorites have not
won. If California Chrome goes off as the favorite will he be able to
break this ice-cold trend?
anticipated in this year’s Preakness Stakes a lot of talk has been exchanged on
California Chrome’s final speed figure in the Kentucky Derby. So often the
results of a race become a paper game, and viewers react on numbers they see.
Why are so many people commenting on how the race was won, rather than how good
this horse ran his race? Yes, Andy Beyer did give Chrome a low speed figure
(less than what we all expected), but it was an honest pace, and when the time
was right Victor Espinoza let his horse run… and run is what he did. The pace was set by Uncle Sigh and Chitu with Chrome 'stalking' nicely in the 3rd position.
He eventually passed the leaders in the stretch and was the first to cross the
finish line; with long shot Commanding Curve closing nicely for second. He was
indeed the best that day, and we can't knock them down for a perfect ride. Eventually pace leaders Uncle Sigh finished 15th,Chitu finished 9th and
Samraat finished 5th.
A race on paper so
often gets over analyzed as in the Derby and the pace did not unfold as
anticipated. A simple sentence that explains it all: Chrome only needed to do what he had to do
to win. We all know Chrome has speed and the ability to produce big
numbers, but figuratively he just did NOT need to break a sweat to win. He glides on air with little energy, and possesses just great elegance when he runs.
The fact that he was
victorious with a slow Beyer speed number on what was considered a fast track
only means he has more in his tank for what appears to have a lot of speed
signed on for the second leg to the Triple Crown series. Everyone will
continue to have his or her own opinions, but why put down a talented
3-year-old down who has only exemplified pure brilliance? Possibly the best
3-year-old out there who is tactical, tractable and has proven that he can rate
nicely behind any horse that wishes to take the lead. With 11 races under his
belt; he is not only a very smart colt, but we can’t deny that also likes to
win. On a lighter subject, since the Derby, I did find out that that California
Chrome’s favorite food is Mrs. Pasture’s Cookies– Molasses flavored and trainer Art Sherman had
to be put him on a diet of NO cookies a few days before the Derby!
With unfinished business still on the table,
will California Chrome bounce out of the Derby in excellent shape and not be affected by a quick
2-week turnaround? Could he encounter another perfect scenario, sitting behind
three speed horses instead of two? Or will the speed in this race become
his nemesis and strip us all from our hopes of a Triple Crown winner?
The quest continues, and our questions will be
answered next Saturday in the 139th running of the Preakness
Good luck to all!