California Chrome has been all the rage this last month -- and rightfully so. The Thoroughbred won the 2014 Kentucky Derby with ease, before winning the 2014 Preakness Stakes. On June 7, Chrome will race, attempting to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win horse racing's elusive Triple Crown.
Since Affirmed won the Triple Crown, 12 horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but failed to win the Belmont. I'll Have Another was the most recent horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (2012), but did not run in the Belmont because of tendonitis. Prior to him, Big Brown was the last horse to attempt to win the Triple Crown, but lost to Da' Tara in the Belmont. Amazingly, Da' Tara had 38-1 odds prior to the race, and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in horse racing history.
No horse has as poor odds as Da' Tara did -- Matterhorn and Matsuzak are the biggest longshots at 30-1 entering Saturday's race. California Chrome, however, is by far the odds-on favorite, with an opening line of 3-5.
Recent history suggests that California Chrome will fail -- after all, 12 horses have tried to win the Triple Crown since 1978, and each one has failed to win the Belmont. Chrome, however, does share one thing in common with a legendary race horse. Secretariat, who won the Triple Crown in 1973, shared the same post positions as California Chrome in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
At the Belmont, Secretariat broke from the No. 2 gate.
At the Belmont on Saturday, California Chrome will break from the No. 2 gate.
Coincidence? Probably. The entire notion of fate is questionable at best and if fate does exist, I can't imagine it's wasting much time on horses.
At 1 and 1/2 miles, the Belmont is the longest of the three Triple Crown races. The Kentucky Derby is 1 and 1/4 miles, while the Preakness is the shortest of the three, at 1 and 3/16 miles. As the longest of the three, the Belmont truly is the test of champions, as it tests a horse's endurance as well as its speed.
Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown? While Chrome dominated the Kentucky Derby, Ride On Curlin, who opens with 12-1 odds at the Belmont, gave Chrome a run for his money at the Preakness -- but finished over a length behind Chrome. It's quite possible that the extra distance will take its toll on Chrome -- as it does many other horses.
Even though California Chrome is easily the odds-on favorite, and easily who everybody wants to see win -- I just don't think he will. The Belmont is the most gruelling of the Triple Crown races -- and horse racing fans will be reminded of that Saturday on Long Island.
Belmont Straight Trifecta Prediction:
- Commanding Curve (15-1)
- Wicked Strong (6-1)
- California Chrome (3-5)
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