NBC Sports is the live source for each Triple Crown race, including today's running of the one hundred and thirty-ninth Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland. Coverage of the second leg of the 'Big 3' begins at 4:30 p.m. ET, with the gates for the 10-horse field set to open shortly after 6 p.m.
Two weeks ago California Chrome transformed from a classic underdog into a champion. This extremely unlikely tale began when Steve Coburn and Perry Martin purchased the horse for peanuts (slightly over $10,000) and employed Art Sherman as their trainer. Sherman's addition proved to be vital and allowed him to become the oldest trainer (77) to ever win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Jockey Victor Espinoza will carry memories of a past bid for history with him as he rides the favorite (3-5) at Pimlico this weekend. In 2002, he went to the winner's circle at the Derby and at the Preakness aboard War Emblem, who then finished eighth at the Belmont Stakes.
Fans of the increasingly popular trio of spring races know that Affirmed was the last horse to win the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in 1978. Incredibly, Seattle Slew accomplished the same strenuous feat just one year earlier. Those back-to-back victories stand as the only time when the Triple Crown was won in consecutive racing seasons. The amazing Secretariat initiated the 1970s' mention, as that fleet beast turned the triple play in 1973.
Prior to the disco era, the Triple Crown hadn't been won since the 1940s. An astounding four horses took top honors when Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Citation (1948) set records after three horses, Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935) and War Admiral (1937) had done the same in the 1930s.
The horse that started it all, Sir Barton (1919), was the original Triple Crown champion before that nickname was coined. In order to have a chance to join racing's founding father, California Chrome will need to fend off nine competitors on what should be a perfect spring day.