Kentucky Derby (G1) winner American Pharoah will have to beat Derby runner up Firing Line and third place finisher Dortmund again in the Preakness Stakes (G1) next Saturday if he plans on keeping his Triple Crown hopes alive.
The Bob Baffert trainee held off Firing Line by a length after an exciting stretch battle to win the Run for the Roses, the fourth for the Hall of Fame trainer and third for jockey Victor Espinoza. It was another two lengths back to Dortmund, who checked in third.
American Pharoah spent most of the winter and spring as the early Derby betting favorite at Bovada and was sent off at just under 3-1 at post time, returning $7.80 for a $2 wager. The colt figures to be around even money in the Preakness.
The colt will have to hold off Firing Line again. Trainer Simon Callaghan said the colt will be sent to Pimlico with Hall of Famer Gary Stevens again in the irons.
Dortmund might be the biggest threat to end the Triple Crown bid this year and is a stablemate of the Derby winner. However, Baffert saw no reason not to run Dortmund, who has a different owner than American Pharoah.
Dortmund is owned by Kaleem Shah while the Derby winner is owned by Zayat Stables, who won their first Derby after three runner up finishes.
Dortmund figures to be a slight second choice with Firing Line the third choice when Bovada releases early Preakness betting odds this week.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has three Preakness possibilities, but has made no final decisions yet. Materiality, who won the Florida Derby (G1), checked in sixth after a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby while Carpe Diem ran a disappointing 10th as the third choice.
In addition, Pletcher is considering running Competitive Edge, who won the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Derby Day undercard.
Two other runners that are considered probable for the second jewel of the Triple Crown are Divining Rod, winner of the Coolmoore Lexington (G3) at Keeneland on April 17, and Bodhisattva, who won the Federico Tesio over the Pimlico main track on April 18.