As the rain poured down, the experienced American Pharoah and rider Victor Espinoza raced out to an almost-wire-to-wire seven-lengths victory at the Preakness, which sets the horse up for a chance at the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in three weeks.
Two months prior, American Pharoah won a race in Arkansas in a similar environment–wet and muddy. The horse won that race by six-and-a-half lengths.
By the time American Pharoah crossed the finish line this time, long shots Tale of Verve and Divining Rod were far behind, seven lengths to be exact.
Now the stage is set for yet another try at the Triple Crown. It’ll be Espinoza’s third attempt at it and trainer Bob Baffert’s fourth. Espinoza rode California Chrome last year in a failed attempt at the Triple Crown, and he couldn’t win the Belmont atop War Emblem in 2002 either.
Baffert also trained War Emblem, as well as Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998. Baffert has experienced the heartbreak before, watching Silver Charm lose by a half-length and Real Quiet lose by a nose. It wasn’t any easier when War Emblem stumbled out of the gate.
The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978.
American Pharoah’s final time at the Preakness was 1:58.46.