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.
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.”
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.