The California-bred horse will try to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history and the first since Affirmed in 1978.
The first obstacle in California Chrome’s chase at immortality is out of the way, being able to wear nasal strips for the race, which it has done in the two previous in Kentucky and Maryland. But the most daunting task is still ahead, being able to run a mile and half, racing for the third time in just five weeks. If this does not sound difficult, consider no horse in a dozen prior attempts has been able to pull this feat against the horse racing odds.
Chrome Favored and will Need a Little Luck
While the post draw isn’t until later, different offshore sportsbooks opened California Chrome at anywhere from -115 to -130. A look Sunday at Bookmaker.eu revealed the horse is still the favorite but down to +115.
Negative horse racing handicappers will talk about how lucky Chrome has been to win its last two races and extend its winning streak to six. The horse had two almost perfect trips, expertly positioned at the start and in the exact spot it needed to be to make a charge on the far turn to bolt to the lead and run strong to the finish line in handling all comers.
However, that kind of talk is foolish as jockey Victor Espinoza did his job in both challenges, first finding the sweet spot before the first turn at the Derby and having to run Chrome faster then he hoped at the Preakness at the start.
Espinoza will likely have to play make adjustments again, not wanting to go out too fast to use up what his horse still has left for strength, yet attempting to be in the right position to make a run down the stretch.
The distant is the great unknown about the final leg of the Triple Crown along with the stamina of the horse. Espinoza was on War Emblem in this exact spot 12 years ago and his ride finished eighth. And of all the recent charges that have been made to end this horse-racing drought, Big Brown seemed like an almost certainty, yet finished last in the Belmont in 2008.
Will California Chrome have the heart where the others did not?
Look Out for These Contenders
Two horses that will draw strong consideration by those making horse racing picks are Commanding Curve (+785) and Ride on Curlin (+825).
Curve finished a strong second at the Derby and will be rested after skipping the Preakness. Curlin was 7th in the Derby and finished runner-up behind California Chrome in the Preakness. Curlin also has jockey change with Joel Rosario moving over to Tonalist and being replaced by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
Tonalist (+745) has the pedigree to roam with Chrome, but like the Triple Crown threat, does it have what it takes to go this distance.
Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong (+645) has been doing stamina training in preparing for the Belmont, after according to it trainer Jimmy Jerkens “….been running too fast”.
“10 Minutes to Post, Please Place Your Bets”
The complete field and starting positions are still to come, but this should be a special day of racing.
The four horses which will be on my various tickets will be California Chrome, Commanding Curve, Ride on Curlin and Tonalist.
Two ways to look at this, there is a “due factor” because, with each prior missed try, we are seemingly closer to a Triple Crown champion. But the “True Test of a Champion” has not been done in a generation and there is nothing to suggest by breeding, C.C. should be up to the challenge.
Rest assured, this is one horse racing fan that will have California Chrome as one of its horse racing picks and rooting with my heart (not head) for this horse to finish first.