California Chrome, right, ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, wins the 139th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. ASSOCIATED PRESS
BALTIMORE — California Chrome won the Preakness in dramatic fashion Saturday to keep alive his bid for horse racing's first Triple Crown since 1978.
As a follow-up to his victory in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Art Sherman's horse justified his stature as the overwhelming favorite by outrunning Ride On Curlin to the finish Saturday.
It was the first Preakness victory for the 77-year-old trainer. California Chrome has won six straight races.
The chestnut colt covered the 1 3-16th mile course in 1:54.84.
With Victor Espinoza in the saddle, California Chrome stayed off the pace in third place before kicking into another gear to storm in front.
"It's an awesome feeling," Espinoza said. "Today it was just a crazy race. I got more tired mentally than physically. I see another horse go to the front. I was going to sit second. .. I sit back, as soon as the other horse got clear of me, it worked out perfect."
Although Ride On Curlin was strong at the finish, he didn't have enough to catch the winner.
California Chrome paid $3 and $2.40. Ride On Curlin returned $5.60 and $3.80. Social Inclusion, who went off as the second favorite at 5-1, returned $3.40.
General a Rod was fourth and Ring Weekend took fifth.
California Chrome is the first California-bred horse to win the Preakness since Snow Chief in 1986.
With a victory in the Belmont on June 7, California Chrome will become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history and the first since Affirmed. Since 1978, 11 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but failed to win Belmont.