American Pharoah is one step from Triple Crown after Preakness victory.

American Pharoah Wins Preakness and Sets Up Elusive Hunt for Triple Crown

American Pharoah Wins Preakness and Sets Up Elusive Hunt for Triple Crown

The Slatest
Your News Companion
May 17 2015 10:09 AM

American Pharoah Wins Preakness and Sets Up Elusive Hunt for Triple Crown

473732664-american-pharoah-ridden-by-victor-espinoza-crosses-the
American Pharoah #1 ridden by Victor Espinoza crosses the finish line to win the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 16, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There was no shortage of dramatics before the start of the Preakness Stakes. Sideways rain, strong winds, lighting, and thunder rumbling in the distance had pretty much emptied the stands at Pimlico Race Course. “Everyone seemed to be waiting for someone to pull the horses off the track, but no one did,” notes the Washington Post. But when the starting gates opened, American Pharoah, the Kentucky Derby winner, made it clear why he was the odds-on favorite to win the competition.

473652742-american-pharoah-ridden-by-victor-espinoza-races
American Pharoah ridden by Victor Espinoza races toward the finish line to win the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 16, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Even though American Pharoah was the favorite, there was concern because “he drew the dreaded number-one post position along the rails, where dreams of victory often get hemmed in,” as NPR’s Tom Goldman explained. The last time a horse won from that position was 1994. But American Pharoah showed that history was nothing to worry about. “The verdict came in somewhere around the quarter pole,” explains USA Today, “when American Pharoah skipped through the slop and pulled away from his seven rivals, backing up his grinding Kentucky Derby win with a seven-length Preakness romp.”

473652614-jockey-victor-espinoza-pours-water-out-of-his-boot-in
Jockey Victor Espinoza pours water out of his boot in the winners circle after riding American Pharoah to win the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 16, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Advertisement

Under jockey Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah becomes the 14th Preakness winner to have a chance at becoming the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. He just needs to win the Belmont Stakes on June 6 first. “It's gonna be tough,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “This is the easiest of the three, and I know everyone is sharpening their knives getting ready.” It marked the sixth Preakness win for Baffert, who now faces his fourth attempt to win a Triple Crown. “Great horses do great things,” Baffert said.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.