After a rather exciting sporting day on May 2, with a down-to-the-wire Kentucky Derby finish, the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes is set to thunder down the track on Saturday, May 16. The second leg of American thoroughbred racing’s vaunted Triple Crown, the annual race held at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course has the unique ability of stoking the flame of Triple Crown hype, or breaking the will of bandwagon horseracing fans. But, at the risk of getting too far ahead of myself, American Pharoah looks to be the real deal.
American Pharoah | Photo: Kentucky Derby
The overwhelming favorite going into the Kentucky Derby two weeks prior, Pharoah (only good friends drop the formality, opting for just plain Pharoah) thrilled in the “fastest two minutes in sports.” The Bob Baffert-trained thoroughbred is going into Saturday’s race as the favorite again, sitting at 5/6 as on May 12’s morning line (Bovada). Pharoah’s biggest threats from the Derby, Firing Line and Dortmund, are following the bay colt to Baltimore, hoping to upset those Triple Crown hopes. Dortmund, who held the lead from the start of the Derby only to fall to third on the final stretch, sits at 11/2, while Firing Line, the second place finisher and a strong contender, sits at 5/1 (morning lines as of May 12 – Bovada). This should give Pharoah a bit of a sweat at Pimlico, which, at 1 3/16 of a mile, the track is a half-furlong (sixteenth of a mile) shorter. If the Kentucky Derby were run at this distance, Pharoah’s win would probably have been by a nose—the Run for the Roses was Pharoah’s worst race of the year, winning by only one-length: of the four previous races, he has dominated with combined margin of victory at 22½ lengths (that is a lot).
While shorter in distance, the field should be less crowded compared to the Derby, which saw 20 horses run. The field is still in flux for the Preakness, with the post officially set on Wednesday, May 13. As of press time (Tuesday, May12), only seven horses have confirmed to run, with an additional five pending (and two TBA bids). However, if the projected field of horses does run, this will prove to be one of the deepest Preakness Stakes in recent memory. On top of Dortmund and Firing Line taking to the track, two additional pre-Derby sleepers will join the fray: Carpe Diem and Materiality. The winner of the Florida Derby, Materiality had high hopes going into the Derby, but got swallowed by the pack (a place he does not like to be) after a slow start, managing a sixth place showing (which is actually pretty good all things considered). At 14/1 (Bovada’s May 12 morning line), Materiality is still a pretty good bet, especially when considering the more open running lanes—probably the best value at the Preakness if one were so inclined.
So, ready for race day? Make a day of it, invite over those fellow thoroughbred fans, and have a little Pimlico-themed party. Celebrate like a true Baltimorean at the Preakness with these tasty and thirst-quenching recipes. Enjoy!
Dig into some authentic Baltimorean cuisine for the Preakness Stakes with these blue crab recipes.
For those not making the trek to Kentucky, Maryland or New York this year to catch the action, you can still play along at home with the official cocktail recipes of the Triple Crown.