Second Jewel: The 139th Running
of the Preakness Stakes
Meet Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, in Baltimore this week for the Preakness, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. I hope you enjoy some of my favorite photos of a remarkable day…
What a difference a day makes! Twenty four hours earlier, this was Pimlico race track. Colossal rains Thursday night made for an absolute slop pit Friday morning!
But the sun was out by late morning, and incredibly the track was perfect by the time the sun rose over Baltimore Saturday morning.
California Chrome, just over 24 hours before his shot at the Preakness, appeared relaxed and comfortable.
I’ve been going to Preakness for 20 years, and this may have been the absolute best weather we’ve ever had.
The day is rich with tradition, from the black-eyed susans…
To the beautiful hats!
As the day progresses, seats fill up, excitement builds and bets are made. When the Preakness race nears, the excitement in the air is palpable.
Ride On Curlin had a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby, but he looked exquisite in the post parade. He would prove to be formidable, taking second. His handlers are looking forward to the Belmont, a race they feel he has a fair chance in.
But this day belonged to one horse.
Barreling down the stretch for the first time, California Chrome (the 3 horse in blue) was in great position.
When they came down the home stretch, it was California Chrome all the way.
Chrome’s jockey Victor Espinoza grins on his way to the winner’s circle.
Back at the barn, California Chrome comes out to show off a bit.
I’ve been around a lot of horses, and I have never seen one so eager to have his picture taken. His ears go up when he hears the first shutter click, and then he poses for as long as you want him to.
You’ve got to polish the Chrome!
Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn’s signature cowboy boots as he greets his horse.
In a moment that felt intensely private, despite being closely surrounded by fifty cameras, Coburn put his arms around his champion’s neck and whispered to him.
Two jewels down. Can he take the third? Gambling is just that, but one thing’s for sure. Such a likable horse, surrounded by equally likable people, will have much of the world pulling for him as he enters the Belmont.