Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Preakness Stakes 2015: Do Eight Horses Make a Better Race?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Preakness Stakes 2015: Do Eight Horses Make a Better Race?

Article excerpt

Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah looks to make it six victories in a row when the thoroughbred lines up with seven other scheduled horses Saturday in the 140th annual Preakness Stakes.

The second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown in Baltimore will also feature horses that finished second and third to Pharoah at the Derby - Firing Line and Dortmund.

Last year's Derby winner, California Chrome, was the last horse to also take home the title of Preakness champion. Chrome, however, fell short of the Triple Crown, finishing fourth in the Belmont Stakes.

The last thoroughbred to capture the Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978.

Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah's jockey, is also looking to go back-to-back for a second consecutive year. He was on board California Chrome during the 2014 Triple Crown season.

There will be less traffic to deal with over the mile and three- sixteenths course on Saturday as only eight horses are entered in the Preakness. That's ten fewer than started in the Derby, which is a mile and a quarter in length, two weeks ago. But the Preakness tends to have a smaller field than the Derby. The Washington Post notes: "With an average of 10.6 horses in a field, the Preakness is a more cleanly run race than the Derby."

But fewer horses doesn't mean a less competitive race. The New York Times observes: "Small fields have not been kind to Triple Crown dreams. Over the past 25 years, the Derby winner has been beaten all five times when there were nine horses or fewer in the field. It happened most recently to Orb, in 2013."

In terms of where they'll start in the Preakness field, American Pharoah drew the No. 1 post position for Saturday's race. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert isn't that excited about the starting spot.

"I don't like the inside. I never like the one-hole. Sometimes they don't break as well. …

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