Baffert expects another stretch duel at Preakness

Thu May 14, 2015 8:58pm EDT
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(Reuters) - American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert expects another challenging race for his Triple Crown hopeful against stablemate Dortmund and Firing Line in Saturday's Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.

American Pharoah, the 4-5 odds-on Preakness favorite, won for the fifth time in a row with a Kentucky Derby triumph two weeks ago that stirred hopes of a possible first Triple Crown sweep since Affirmed in 1978.

But he had to work hard for it.

"American Pharoah hadn’t had a hard race," Baffert noted on Thursday. "That was a good, stiff, hard race for him."

At Churchill Downs, Firing Line, ridden by 52-year-old Gary Stevens, overtook Dortmund in the stretch and battled with American Pharoah before finishing second by a length.

Baffert said the 1-3/16 mile Preakness, the second leg of U.S. thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, could bring another exciting stretch duel between the trio.

"It’s going be very competitive. Those big three are going to be very tough again,” Baffert said. "Dortmund is going to be tough again. The way he came out of it, he could jump up. It’s going to be interesting. What happens going into the first turn will determine everything.”

Baffert said both American Pharoah and Dortmund looked good in their introduction to Pimlico on Thursday.

"Dortmund came by first. He was really moving well,” Baffert said. “You could see he was comfortable.   Continued...

May 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Horse trainer Bob Baffert walks American Pharoah off of a transport trailer into the Preakness Barn after arriving for the 140th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY