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Pharoah Slays the Slop in the Preakness

Posted by Webster Washington on 5/17/2015 10:29:01 AM

In the end, American Pharoah emerged with the cleanest face in the crowd. Wet, but clean. That’s because the colt led for most of the way over a sloppy track in the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. While others in the eight-horse field had to take the muddy kickback, American Pharoah sailed along to an seven-length victory and now points toward completing the Triple Crown, a feat not accomplished since Affirmed did it in 1978.

Now the media onslaught begins in earnest as the challenge becomes even stiffer. But American Pharoah appears up to the task. It’s not just that he won the first two legs of the Crown, but it is how he did it. In the Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah fought off two challengers down the stretch and came out the winner after running on the outside for most of the race. On Saturday, he had the inside post position, shook off one challenger early and never looked back.

American Pharoah won, paying just $3.80, 3.40 and 2.80, at nearly even odds. A 25-1 upstart, Tale of Verve turned away Divining Rod in the stretch to finish second and pay $19.00 and 8.80. Divining Rod was the show finisher, paying $5.20. The exacta paid a handsome $124.40 and the trifecta came in at a whopping $985.

”I don’t even want to think about the Triple Crown right now,” triumphant trainer Bob Baffert said just after the race. “I want to enjoy this.” But this week, Baffert will begin the task of figuring the right combination of workouts for American Pharoah, as they gear up for the Belmont Stakes on June 6.

American Pharoah has done almost nothing wrong since a loss in his debut almost two years ago. He has since won six graded stakes races without a loss, and this year’s wins have been impressive. But the Belmont will present the toughest test yet, a test that 13 other Derby-Preakness winners have failed at since Affirmed’s accomplishment. At Belmont, the distance will be longer, the dirt deeper, and many of the challengers more rested. For this good horse to become great, American Pharoah will have to overcome all of those odds.

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