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Derby Winner American Pharoah Heavy Favorite To Take 140th Preakness Stakes
Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah will start from Post 1 in Saturday's 140th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore and the colt is the heavy 4/5 favorite at Bovada to complete the second leg of the Triple Crown. The horse racing world has been without a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. The top three finishers from a thrilling Kentucky Derby will all run in the Preakness for the first time since 2009 (when filly Rachel Alexandra won), along with at least three intriguing outsiders.
Doomed From Post 1?
"I never like the 1 hole," American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Preakness five times, said. "That's the first time I've ever drawn the rail here. I've been so lucky. You don't like to see it, but if he's the best horse we'll find out."
It should be noted that the winning horse has run from Post 1 just once in the past 54 races. The Preakness is 1 3/16 miles, one-sixteenth of a mile shorter than the Derby. That could be a good thing if your horse is tired after having just run in the Derby two weeks earlier. And it looked like American Pharoah was exhausted after the Derby, especially after being whipped some 30 times down the stretch by jockey Victor Espinoza. His race in the Derby was very wide, yet he was able to sweep around the final turn and edged ahead of Dortmund and Firing Line down the stretch. At the 1 3/16-mile mark two weeks ago, he was leading.
The 141st Derby was the fifth straight victory for American Pharoah, a bay son of 2009 Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile whose lone defeat came in his debut last summer, a 6 ½-furlong sprint on the former Polytrack surface at Del Mar. Talented and fast with five consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, American Pharoah has won five of his six lifetime starts by a combined 23 ¼ lengths, mostly in front-running fashion.
Firing Line Trainer Happy
Nobody was happier about how the post positions shook out for the eight-horse field than Gary Stevens, who rode Firing Line to a second-place finish at the Derby and told owner Arnold Zetcher before the draw that he would prefer to start from the outside. Stevens got his wish drawing the No. 8 hole. Firing Line is the 4/1 second favorite. He was a very strong second in the Derby. After losing twice to Dortmund, he proved to be better at the longer distance. He's never finished worse than second in six races.
Thirteen times in the 36 years since Affirmed held off Alydar in the Belmont homestretch and became the third Triple Crown winner of the 1970s and the 11th in history, a horse has won the Derby and the Preakness and arrived in New York with the chance at a Triple Crown, including California Chrome last year. The field of eight runners is the smallest to enter the Preakness since 2000 when Fusaichi Pegasus was a big favorite coming off a resounding win in the Kentucky Derby. He finished second to Red Bullet, who bypassed the first leg of the Triple Crown.
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