Two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, the eyes of the racing world are on Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore for the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1), the second leg of the Triple Crown. 112,222 were on hand, packing the stands and in the infield for Maryland's biggest day of sports. Although rain on Friday rendered the track muddy, warm breezy weather and sunny skies on Saturday quickly dried the track to fast in time for the first race on Saturday's card of racing.
A field of twelve 3-year-olds went to post in this 1 3/16 mile classic, but only two came out of the Kentucky Derby. As expected, Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown was sent off as the 1-5 favorite over 9-1 Gayego, who was 17th in Louisville. The rest of the field was at double-digits on the board, led by 14-1 Kentucky Bear, third in the Blue Grass Stakes last out.
Gayego led the field first time past the stands, opening up a clear lead of 1 1/2 lengths through brisk fractions of 23.59 and 46.51. Riley Tucker stalked him in second out three wide, while heavy favorite Big Brown settled in third. Jockey Kent Desormeaux switched Big Brown to the far outside, 5 paths off the rail, to avoid traffic trouble after some contact with Riley Tucker on the clubhouse turn. Gayego continued to lead the field through 3/4 in 1:10.48 but the fast pace took its toll as both he and Riley Tucker dropped out of contention on the turn. Big Brown easily ran by the tiring pacesetters and took over the lead inside the 1/4 pole. He opened up a 5 1/2 length lead midstretch, and cruised under the line 5 1/4 lengths ahead of late-running Macho Again, completing the trip in 1:54.80 over the fast track. It was just 1/2 a length back to third place finisher Icabad Crane, who closed well after racing at the back of the pack early.
Full Results Chart