The 139th Preakness Stakes takes place on Saturday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Here are some trends to know before you watch the race.
One down, two to go
If Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome wins the Preakness, he would become the 13th horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown since 1978, when Affirmed became the last horse to win the Triple Crown.
Longest Triple Crown Droughts
Since 1st Winner (1919)
Yet winning the first two legs has been somewhat of a bad omen recently.
The last two horses to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness -- I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Big Brown in 2008 – either didn’t start the Belmont (I’ll Have Another) or didn’t finish (Big Brown).
The 36 years since Affirmed is the longest drought ever for a Triple Crown winner.
In fact, it’s as long as the combined droughts ended by Secretariat (25 years) and Gallant Fox (11) combined.
Favorites fare well
The post-time favorite in the Preakness has finished first or second in 13 of the last 16 years. Last year, 3-5 favorite Orb finished fourth, the second time in four years that the favorite completed the race and finished out of the money (Super Saver in 2010 finished 8th). Before that, it hadn't happened since 1996.
California Chrome will likely be the odds-on favorite (less than 1-1). He would be just the ninth horse since 1980 to go off at such low odds. Only two of the other seven horses in this stretch won the race: Smarty Jones in 2004 and Big Brown in 2008.
For the first time in the history of this race, the Preakness will feature a filly (Ria Antonia), a female jockey (Rosie Napravnik on Bayern) and a female trainer (Linda Rice, Kid Cruz).
Fillies to Win Preakness
Speaking of fillies, Ria Antonia will be the first filly to race in the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra won the race in 2009.
The winning jockey that day was Calvin Borel, who also is riding Ria Antonia. Before Rachel Alexandra won in 2009, a filly had not won the Preakness since Nellie Morse in 1924.
Lucky May 17
This year’s race will be held on May 17. For those that like favorite California Chrome, here’s more reason to pick him. The last three times the Preakness was held on May 17 – 1997, 2003, 2008 -- the horse that won had also won the Kentucky Derby. However, none of those three horses obviously completed the Triple Crown.
Baffert goes for history
Trainer Bob Baffert will be trying to become just the fifth trainer ever to reach double figures in Triple Crown victories. With his victory in last year’s Preakness Stakes, D. Wayne Lukas broke Jim Fitzsimmons’ record for Triple Crown race wins by a trainer, claiming his 14th win.
Baffert is also trying for his sixth career Preakness win, which would move him into a tie with Lukas for second place all-time by a trainer. The record of seven is held by Robert W. Walden.