Preakness Stakes: American Pharoah wins to stay on course for Triple Crown

CNN  — 

American Pharoah stayed on course for the famed Triple Crown by winning the 140th edition of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore Saturday.

The Kentucky Derby winner, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, justified its favoritism in the eight-horse field with a seven-length victory.

With a win in the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 6, American Pharoah would become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to take the Triple Crown and the 12th of all time.

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The race was held on a sodden track after a thunderstorm passed overhead just before the start in Maryland.

American Pharoah, despite an unfavorable inside draw, quickly took the lead from Firing Line and was never seriously challenged.

Second in the 1 3/16-mile race went to longshot Tale of Verve, with Divining Rod in third.

Jockey Espinoza completed the Kentucky Derby-Preakness double a year ago on California Chrome, but could only finish fourth in the Belmont Stakes.

He said he had been confident almost from the start that American Pharoah would go on to win.

“He broke a little tiny bit slow, and then I pushed him to go to the front,” Espinoza said.

“As soon as I took the lead, that was it.”

Baffert believes the colt has the quality to complete the Triple Crown. “Just an incredible horse,” he said.

He has trained three previous horses – Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002, who each won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but failed to claim the Belmont Stakes.

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