Though torrential rains muddied the track only minutes before post time, American Pharoah won the 140th Preakness Stakes Saturday at Pimlico Race Course. American Pharoah is now the 14th horse in the last 37 years to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown, and in three weeks will try to end the almost four decade drought at the Belmont Stakes.
A soaking wet Victor Espinosa won his second straight Preakness and third of his career while trainer Bob Baffert is now 4-for-4 in the Preakness when the contender’s coming off a win in the Kentucky Derby. It’s also the sixth Preakness victory for Baffert, and he told NBC after the race he’s not even thinking about the Triple Crown yet.
“I don’t want to think about it now,” Baffert said. “I want to enjoy this. You don’t know how much I appreciate this.”
Tale of Verve finished second and Divining Rod was third.
Employing the 3-year-old colt’s front running style, Espinosa roared out of the gate to avoid getting pinned inside at the dreaded No. 1 post. He then held the lead at 2 1/2 lengths after the first turn and backstretch.
The lead was cut to about a 1/2 length as the pack entered the home stretch, but Espinosa opened up American Pharoah for a victory by about seven lengths for a time of 1:58.46. He's the first horse to win the Preakness from the No. 1 post since Tabasco Cat in 1994.
Heavy rain began to fall roughly 10 minutes before the start of the race and jockeys boarded their horses. Trainers and jockeys kept each contender warm by walking around just prior to entering the gate.
Espinosa, 42, even admitted after the race he wasn’t going to burst out of the gate, but the rain changed everything. American Pharoah had slopped through the Rebel Stakes in March, giving him a decided edge over the other top contenders Firing Line and Dortmund.
Espinosa is now the only jockey with three chances to claim the Triple Crown, having slipped up last year with California Chrome and in 2002 with Baffert’s War Emblem.
“I’ve always told everybody the real American Pharoah will show off today,” owner Ahmed Zayat said. “He’s the real deal and the sport needs him.”
For those who picked American Pharoah to win the payout was $3.80.
The full video of the race is below.