Two weeks after Big Brown’s run-away victory in the Kentucky Derby, the center of the horse-racing world moved its attention to Baltimore and the 133rd running of the Preakness. The question is: can any one bring a horse that will challenge Kentucky Derby winner, Big Brown?
Odds makers have not only set Big Brown at 1-2 odds to win, they are taking bets on the margin of victory. The only horse from the Kentucky Derby to make the trip to Baltimore is Gayego. The former Arkansas Derby champion, however, only managed a 17th place finish in the Louisville, KY signature race.
Then there is the race venue itself – Pimlico. The storied track and host to the second of the three races that compose the Triple Crown – sports’ most elusive championship. There has not been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in captured the crown in 1978.
Over the years, Pimlico and the Preakness have been witness to some strange goings on.
In 1999, a man jumped the fence during a preliminary race, dashed onto the track and tried to punch at horses as they roared past him to the finish line. In 2006, race favorite Barbaro broke down and had to be euthanized eight months later.
There is an uneasy feeling surrounding the sport of thoroughbred racing leading up the Preakness. Two weeks ago, second place finisher, filly Eight Bells, while cooling down on the back stretch after crossing the finish line, 4 and a half lengths behind Big Brown, broke both front legs and had to be put down on the track on national television.
Given the track history at Pimlico, many are hoping that this year’s race will see all the entrants come through healthy and unscathed. It is a pretty good bet, no matter what happens on Saturday, Big Brown will be watching in his rear view as the rest of the field crosses the finish line.
See slideshow below for photos by John Douglass for The Bay Net.