2014 Belmont Stakes: California Chrome Goes for History

It has been 35 years since Affirmed last won the Triple Crown and over the last three decades we have seen a dozen horses show up in New York to attempt to join the elite club, but all have come up short. This year, California Chrome will seek to become an all-time great by sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.

With a modest pedigree, by a sprint sire that stands for just $2,500 out of a mare that was purchased for just $8,000, the colt has already bucked the odds. He has won eight of his 12 career starts and comes into the Belmont Stakes riding a six-race winning streak.

Horse bettors have jumped onboard, making him the 3-5 heavy betting favorite for the race, a 1 ½-mile test where he will face 10 foes looking to derail his Triple Crown bid.

Trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, the colt was sent off as the 5-2 betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby and did not disappoint, surging to the lead heading for home and holding off the late running Commanding Curve by 1 ¾ lengths.

Two weeks later in Baltimore the colt was sent off at 1-2 odds and again did not disappoint his backers, winning by 1 ½ lengths over the late rallying Ride On Curlin.

Now it is on to New York where the colt will have a target on his back for the race. He faces a solid field that includes a pair of runners he beat in both Triple Crown races, four runners that ran in the Derby and bypassed the Preakness to be fresh for the Belmont, and four foes that will be making their first start in a Triple Crown race this year.

The second choice in the betting at 6-1 is Wicked Strong, who was fourth in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness. The colt did not have the best of trips after stumbling out of the 19 post and catching some traffic in the stretch.

Horses losing the Derby and skipping the Preakness have had a good record in the Belmont Stakes. The last two winners, Palace Malice and Union Rags were beaten in Louisville and came back five weeks later to win the Belmont. In fact, since 2000 seven runners have accomplished the feat.

Among the new shooters are the top two finishers of the Peter Pan Stakes – the winner Tonalist and runner up Commissioner.

Tonalist, who is at betting odds of 8-1, took to the sloppy conditions at Belmont Park and won the Peter Pan by four lengths. The colt breaks from the far outside in the Belmont, but figures to be an early pace factor.

Peter Pan runner up Commissioner is trained by Todd Pletcher, who saddled last year’s winner as well as the 2007 winner, the filly Rags to Riches. The colt has a stellar pedigree, by A.P. Indy, who won the 1992 Belmont Stakes, and he is out of a mare that was sired by another Belmont Stakes winner, Touch Gold who won the 1997 running.

Two runners join California Chrome that competed in all three Triple Crown races. Ride On Curlin (12-1) was seventh in the Derby and a fast closing second in the Preakness, while General A Rod (20-1) was 11th in the Derby and improved to fourth in the Preakness.

Completing the field are longshots Matterhorn (30-1), Matuszak (30-1) and Samraat (20-1).

Can California Chrome become the 12th Triple Crown winner? Place your wagers and tune into NBC, with post time for the Belmont Stakes at 6:52pm (ET).

About Tennessee Leduc

Born in Summersville Kentucky, Tennessee is an impassioned fan of horse racing, women, civilized debauchery, and... mint juleps. He writes, he reads, he listens, but above all he experiences the world he lives in.

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