American Pharoah had to beat 17 horses when he won the Kentucky Derby on May 2, but for the Preakness Stakes only seven will dare face him. Pharoah will break from post one when he tries to become the sixth horse in the 21st century to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland. He was set as the 4-5 morning-line favorite by track oddsmaker Keith Feustle.
Should American Pharoah win on Saturday he’ll then attempt to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes on June 6. But can he be beaten in the Preakness? Let’s take a look at his competition.
Dortmund (Post Position: 2 Odds: 7-2)
Dortmund set a slow pace, cut the corner but couldn’t hold off American Pharoah or Firing Line at the finish in the Kentucky Derby, finishing third by three lengths. The slightly shorter distance might enable Dortmund to hold off ‘Pharoah’ though; the Preakness is only 1 and 3/16ths of a mile compared to the 1 and 1/4 mile distance of the Derby. Curlin was the last horse to finish third in the Derby to win the Preakness (2007).
Firing Line (Post Position: 8 Odds: 4-1)
Firing Line outlasted Dortmund but couldn’t beat American Pharoah in the Derby, losing by a length. The aforementioned shorter distance might also benefit Firing Line. However, no Kentucky Derby runner-up has won the Preakness since Prairie Bayou in 1993.
Divining Rod (Post Position: 7 Odds: 12-1)
Divining Rod won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland by three lengths in his last start after campaigning at Tampa Bay Downs on the Derby trail. His connections chose to bypass the Derby in favor of the Preakness. He will be ridden by the defending Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano.
Danzig Moon (Post Position: 4 Odds: 15-1)
Danzig Moon was 5th through almost the entire running of the Kentucky Derby, and that’s where he finished. He’ll have to make up 6.5 lengths on American Pharoah and beat Firing Line and Dortmund in the process. An encouraging sign for this colt is Julien Leparoux chose to ride him over Divining Rod.
Bodhisattva (Post Position: 6 Odds: 20-1)
Bodhisattva got his elusive stakes win in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico in his last start. He’s faced graded stakes competition only once in 11 career starts, finishing a distant fifth in the Remsen Stakes at age two. No horse has prepped in Maryland and won the Preakness since Bee Bee Bee in 1972.
Mr. Z (Post Position: 3 Odds: 20-1)
Mr. Z was a troubled 13th in the Kentucky Derby but he has had difficulty keeping up with the cream of the three-year-old crop after looking like a promising prospect at age two. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Preakness Stakes a remarkable six times, including as recently as 2013 with Oxbow. Interestingly, it was announced that Zayat Stables (owners of American Pharoah) had sold Mr. Z on Wednesday to Calumet Farm.
Tale of Verve (Post Position: 5 Odds: 30-1)
Tale of Verve was unable to draw in off the also-eligible list in the Kentucky Derby but would’ve been a huge longshot had he done so. He has only a maiden win to his credit in six career starts and has never even competed in a stakes race.
The Pick: Divining Rod