BALTIMORE - American Pharoah will be the odds-on favorite to beat seven opponents in Saturday's's Preakness Stakes. If it were a competition for the prettiest tail, he would finish far behind.
The Kentucky Derby winner is a handsome bay with an unsightly tail. It's unusually short, the result of another 2-year-old chewing on it last year at the McKathan brothers' farm near Ocala, Florida. Among the suspects, believe it or not, is Preakness competitor Mr. Z, who also was raised there. Both colts were owned by Ahmed Zayat until he sold Mr. Z to Calumet Farm on Wednesday.
Zayat's son and racing manager, Justin, said, "I saw him early in the year and he had a full tail. I came back six months later and he had this tiny tail."
After the Derby, American Pharoah's trainer, Bob Baffert, offered an imaginative tale of the tail. "I think he was in the pasture one day and there was a mountain lion chasing him," he said. "That was the closest he could get to him, and he took a bite out of it.
"Old Bobtail, as we call him."
The song "Camptown Races" includes the lines, "I'll bet my money on the bob-tailed nag, somebody bet on the bay." American Pharoah is one and the same. Hmm, what could that mean?
Here's a potential concern for Pharoah. Preakness rival Mr. Z drew post 3, two gates to his outside. If he's ahead of Mr. Z in the run to the first turn, will Mr. Z try to tear more hair out of his rump?
The Weather Channel's forecast for Saturday at Pimlico: A high of 88, with a 40-percent chance of morning showers and isolated afternoon thunderstorms.