Derby champ American Pharoah may get California competition at Preakness

After sweeping the Kentucky Derby, California horses may head to Preakness

Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah could have some familiar company — and competition — on his run to a possible Triple Crown.

A day after American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund produced a California sweep at Churchill Downs, trainers Bob Baffert and Simon Callaghan indicated Sunday that all might race again May 16 in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore.

Baffert trains American Pharoah for Zayat Stables and Dortmund for Kaleem Shah. The four-time Derby winner said that a decision on both colts' status for the Preakness would be made after monitoring them this week.

Dortmund led for most of the Kentucky Derby before finishing third. Baffert said he would consult with Shah about the Preakness.

"I'm sure he's going to want a little revenge," Baffert told reporters. "His horse ran a really good race."

American Pharoah and Dortmund will remain at Baffert's stable at Churchill Downs this week.

Firing Line, who finally finished ahead of Dortmund but could not hold off American Pharoah, also will remain in Kentucky.

Callaghan said the Arnold Zetcher-owned Firing Line could be bound for the Preakness.

"You'd have to think if all is well that he's earned that right," Callaghan said. "We were glad we finally got to best Dortmund. ... And we believe we can be right there with American Pharoah."

American Pharoah became the third California-trained colt in four years to win the Kentucky Derby, joining 2012 winner I'll Have Another and 2014 winner California Chrome.

There has not been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Baffert's first three Derby winners won the Preakness before falling short in the Belmont Stakes.

In 1997, Silver Charm finished less than a length behind Touch Gold. The next year, Real Quiet lost to Victory Gallop by a nose.

In 2002, War Emblem's bid for the Triple Crown ended when he stumbled out of the gate and fell behind the rest of the field.

Now American Pharoah, who has won his last five races, appears ready to make a bid after overcoming his first major challenge.

"He was just born with that talent," Baffert said. "He just floats over the ground."

Baffert was happy to move forward after winning for the fourth time.

"It was a big sigh of relief," he said. "I was like 'mission accomplished.'"

Etc.

Each of the 18 horses that competed in the Kentucky Derby came out of the race in good shape, trainers told the Derby's communications department. ... On- and off-track wagering on the 13-race Kentucky Derby Day program totaled a record $194.3 million, up 4% from the mark of $187 million set in 2012, according to Churchill Downs Inc. Total wagering on the Derby was a record $137.9 million, a 4% increase from the $133.1 million also set in 2012.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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