Kentucky Derby and Preakness
Jockey Victor Espinoza celebrates winning the second leg of the Triple Crown at the 140th Preakness Stakes, Saturday, May 16, 2015, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Longines/AP Images)
May 2, 2015 -- It was ideal weather for the 141st running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby as a record 170,513 fans, the highest attendance in Derby history, watched American Pharoah take home the garland of roses. Prior attendance record of 165,307 was set in 2012 when I'll Have Another won the 138th Kentucky Derby.
American Pharoah, owned and bred in Kentucky by Ahmed Zayat, passed runner-up Firing Line in the stretch to win by a length as the 5-2 favorite. Trainer Bob Baffert won for the fourth time with prior victories coming in 1997 with Silver Charm, 1998 with Real Quiet, and 2002 with War Emblem. Baffert also saddled third-place finisher Dortmund. It was the third Kentucky Derby triumph for jockey Victor Espinoza, who won the race in 2002 aboard War Emblem and last year on California Chrome. The winner covered 1 ¼ miles over a fast track in 2:03.02 for his fifth consecutive win and his fifth victory in six career races. The victory was worth $1.4 million and increased American Pharoah's earnings to $2.8 million.
The Preakness Stakes
Following his victory in the Kentucky Derby, Zayat Stables’ American Pharoah went on to shine in the 140th Preakness Stakes (G1). He romped over the sloppy track at Pimlico Race Course to register a seven-length victory. The Bob Baffert-trained 3-year-old colt, who had to work hard to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) by a length, overpowered his seven rivals with a front-running triumph under Victor Espinoza. American Pharoah was Baffert’s sixth Preakness winner and moved him even with D. Wayne Lukas in second place for the most victories. Nineteenth century trainer Robert Walden won the race seven times.
“He’s just an amazing horse. Everybody talks about the greatness and he’s starting to show it. To me, they have to prove it. Today, the way he did it. He’s just so fast, the way he ran,” Baffert said. “It was like poetry in motion.”
As the horses were being saddled on the infield turf course, a heavy rain turned the racing surface sloppy – a condition American Pharoah handled easily while winning the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, AR on March 14, 2015. The son of Pioneerof the Nile again demonstrated a distinct affinity for the wet going while posting his sixth consecutive victory in the $1.5 million Preakness.
The Preakness field was quite small – only 8 horses – compared to the 18-horse field at the Kentucky Derby, down from 20 original contenders. After breaking a bit awkwardly from his No. 1 post position, American Pharoah was hustled to the lead by Espinoza in the run along the front-stretch. Pharoah showed the way around the turn and along the backstretch, chased by long shot Mr. Z as others, including second-betting choice Firing Line and Baffert-trained Dortmund appeared to have trouble handling the sloppy surface. American Pharoah maintained his uncontested lead around the far turn after posting fractions of 22.90 seconds, 46.49 and 1:11.42 for the first six furlongs of the 1 3/16-mile classic and sprinted clear through the stretch run.
1st: American Pharoah; jockey Victor Espinoza; trainer Bob Baffert
2nd: Tale of Verve: jockey Joel Rosario; trainer Dallas Stewart
3rd: Divining Rod; jockey Javier Castellano; trainer Arnaud Delacour
4th: Dortmund; jockey Martin Garcia; trainer Bob Baffert
5th: Mr. Z; jockey Corey Nakatani; trainer D. Wayne Lukas
6th: Danzig Moon; jockey Julien Leparoux; trainer Mark Casse
7th: Firing Line; jockey Gary Stevens; trainer Simon Callaghan
8th: Bodhisattva; jockey Trevor McCarthy; trainer Jose Corrales
American Pharoah is scheduled to run in the Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on June 6 to vie for a chance to become Thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown champion, and the first since Affirmed earned the title in 1978.
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