The Seven Challengers To American Pharoah
The Preakness Stakes runs tomorrow in the embattled city of Baltimore. As one who lived near Charm City for four years and worked with quite a few people from the city itself, the thoughts and prayers continue to go out for healing in a city that has so much to offer beyond what we’ve heard about in recent weeks.
And one of those things is the second leg of the Triple Crown, with post time set for 6:18 PM ET on NBC. American Pharoah, fresh off his Kentucky Derby win, is installed as a decisive 4-5 favorite to win this one.
There’s good reason for oddsmaker optimism on American Pharoah. The Preakness is a race that has generally worked well for favorites and the field is always the smallest of the Triple Crown races. This year, American Pharoah will face only seven challengers.
We’ll break them into three categories—the real contenders, the legitimate darkhorses and the longshots.
THE REAL CONTENDERS
Dortmund (7-2): He finished third in the Kentucky Derby and that performance was preceded by a victory in the prestigious Santa Anita Derby, along with other relatively high-profile West Coast races in the San Felipe Stakes and the Robert Lewis Stakes. In fact, Dortmund had won all six of his starts prior to Churchill Downs.
Firing Line (4-1): The runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, Firing Line has run six races in his career and finished first or second each time, including his performance at Churchill Downs. Based on that, why wouldn’t we expect him to be there at the end on Saturday?
THE LEGITIMATE DARKHORSES
Divining Rod (12-1): He didn’t run the Kentucky Derby and is a horse that seems to be gradually peaking. He’s run three stakes races (albeit none as prestigious as the Santa Anita Derby that Dortmund won) and finished in the money each time. The most recent outing was the Lexington Stakes and it was a win.
Danzig Moon (15-1): It’s a small body of work, with a second-place finish at the Blue Grass Stakes and a fourth in the Kentucky Derby leading to a strong fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. The small resume is what makes this horse interesting—you never know when the breakout is going to occur.
Mr. Z (20-1)
Mr. Z is the only one of these horses to run at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, placing 13th. While one should never say never in horse racing, I can safely say this—if any of these three horses win the Preakness, there is nothing in their past performances that indicates a win was coming.
AT THE BETTING WINDOW
If I was picking this race with all things being equal, I’d take American Pharoah. But what fun is that at the window? I’d take a shot with Danzig Moon at 15-1.