Veteran jockey Steve Hamilton will be riding eight times during the rich 11-race Maryland Million Day program as he continues to rebuild a career that lay fallow while he raised his family and worked as a blacksmith back in his home state of Oklahoma.
All week, the connections to the Preakness' top contenders have been asked an impossible question: What will your horse do in the downpour that might drench the racetrack, or might not come at all? Their answers have differed only in style.
Alongside the new C Street Flats apartments, an old world shoemaker shop, A. M. Kroop and Sons, breathes quietly and deeply in the hub of the city's revitalized Arts and Entertainment District. The shop's current proprietor, Columbia resident Randy Kroop, said she hasn't changed the painstaking 125-step process used by her grandfather since taking over the shop from her father, Morris, and her uncle, Israel, in the late 1970s
Firing Line came very close to being the Triple Crown candidate with a strong performance at the Kentucky Derby, and the planets have aligned almost perfectly for him to upset American Pharoah in the Preakness.
American Pharoah is a brilliant horse, admired by all the wisest observers in the racing game. But the Kentucky Derby champion is always a sensation during Preakness week. What sets this year apart is the presence of two challengers in Firing Line and Dortmund who gave the champ all he wanted at Churchill Downs.
One of the greatest trainers in Preakness history, six-time winner D. Wayne Lukas, created a bit of intrigue Wednesday by unexpectedly entering Mr. Z in Saturday's race. Mr. Z's owner, Ahmed Zayat, had said he did not want to bring the horse back on two weeks' rest after a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. But Lukas helped facilitate a mid-week sale of the horse from Zayat to Kentucky's Calumet Farm and entered the horse into the Preakness, where he will start third from the rail.
It had to be one of those what-are-the-odds moments for trainer Bob Baffert, and we're not talking about the fact that Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah was set as a 4-5 morning line favorite for the 140th running of the Preakness on Saturday at Old Hilltop. Baffert, who said before Wednesday's race draw that he is always "post-position sensitive," ended up with both Pharoah and third-place Derby finisher Dortmund stacked 1-2 on the rail.
Baffert's remarkable duo — the effortlessly swift 5-2 favorite American Pharoah and undefeated 3-1 second choice Dortmund — will start in the No. 18 and No. 8 posts, respectively, as determined by Wednesday evening's post-position draw.