Pimlico, Dirt, 9.5 Furlongs
17 May 2014

The Art Sherman-trained 3-year-old California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) proved unbeatable in the Preakness Stakes Saturday, the second leg of the Triple Crown, staged at Pimlico Racecourse.

A commanding winner of both the GII San Felipe Stakes.on 8 March and the GI Santa Anita Derby on 5 April, California Chrome dazzled once again as the favorite in the GI Kentucky Derby on 3 May.

Heavily favored at 1-2 to take the GI Preakness Stakes, the flashy chestnut was away well from the three-hole and sat in a tracking third as Pablo del Monte (Giant’s Causeway) and the filly Ria Antonia (Rockport Harbor) did all the heavy lifting on the front end through splits of :23.56 and :46.05. Social Inclusion (Pioneerof the Nile) turned up the heat on the favorite on the backstretch and forced jockley Victor Espinoza to ask the favorite a bit early. California Chrome had his head in front turning for home and began to draw away with Ride On Curlin (Curlin) in hot pursuit. It was clear in the final furlong however, that the favorite had this one in the bag and he hit the wire a length ahead of a valiant Ride On Curlin in a time of 1:54:84. It was daylight back to Social Inclusion in third and General a Rod (Roman Ruler) was fourth.

“A Triple Crown winner, if you had said that to me at the beginning of the year, I would have said, ‘Are you crazy?’” 77-year-old conditioner Art Sherman said when asked about being 66% of the way towards ending the 35-year Triple Crown drought. “Now that I’m getting closer, I’m elated, really big time.”

Victor Espinoza rode 2002 Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem (Our Emblem) before a disappointing eighth in the GI Belmont Stakes, and was excited for another crack at history. “It means a lot, and I’m ready,” he said. “Hopefully California Chrome comes back good. It’s tough, but I’m just glad to have my second chance in my career. In a million years I didn’t think I was going to have a second chance. I was very close once. But it will work out. Life goes on, and over a decade, here we go. I’m here again.”

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News