After winning the Kentucky Derby without breaking a sweat, California Chrome just raised expectations of pulling off a historic Triple Crown.
Chrome won the Derby on Saturday by less than two lengths, but it was a more dominant showing than that. The race had a slow, early pace as contenders got into position to make a run down the home stretch.
With unmatched speed, Chrome exploded from the pack of contenders and left the field in his dust down the stretch. His margin of victory would have been greater had jockey Victor Espinoza not eased up to celebrate on the last few gallops.
Have a look at the replay:
And here are the results:
|1||5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman|
|2||17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart|
|3||4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher|
|4||20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Jimmy Jerkens|
|5||6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.|
|6||12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton|
|7||19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||Billy Gowan|
|8||14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans|
|9||13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert|
|10||7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher|
|11||8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker|
|12||16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|13||18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler|
|14||3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa|
|15||15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen|
|16||2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker|
|17||9||Vinceremos||Joe Rocco Jr.||Todd Pletcher|
|18||10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo|
|19||1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker|
via NBC broadcast
With the win, California Chrome's 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman became the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby. He was understandably emotional and ecstatic following the race:
Trainer Art Sherman: "Words can't describe how I feel. It's like a dream come true." #KyDerby— Americas Best Racing (@ABRLive) May 3, 2014
Despite the monumental win, there is no time to sit and revel in the accomplishment. Chrome has to get ready for the Triple Crown's second leg with the Preakness on May 17.
Chrome's impressive win is not lost on the gambling industry. Despite there only being 11 Triple Crown winners since 1911 and none since Affirmed in 1978, California Chrome's odds to pull off the feat are low.
Sportsbook.com tweeted his odds:
Kentucky Derby Champion California Chrome is +120 to win the Preakness and +180 to win the Triple Crown— Sportsbook.com ® (@Sportsbook_com) May 3, 2014
If you ask Chrome's co-owner, Steve Coburn, those odds aren't low enough. As the Courier-Journal's Kyle Tucker tweets, Coburn is a touch confident about his horse's shot at the triple crown:
California Chrome's cowboy hat-wearing owner, Steve Coburn, goes big and predicts his horse will win the Triple Crown.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 3, 2014
He has every reason in the world to be confident. Chrome has now won five straight races, and he was the clear class of the field in each one. Jockey Victor Espinoza has had the mount for each, and the accomplished veteran will be there to continue this racing relationship.
The Preakness is a touch shorter than the Kentucky Derby, but Chrome burst out of the gate at the Derby and didn't show any indications that he'd struggle in the Preakness.
The Belmont is another story. That is the longest of the Triple Crown races, and it has derailed many a horse in search of the Triple Crown.
Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown?
Going back to 2002 with War Emblem, who happened to be ridden by Espinoza, five horses have won the Derby and Preakness but have come up short in the Belmont.
Along with the greater distance, potential Triple Crown winners typically face a field that is far more rested. Only a rare entry or two will participate in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
So will California Chrome be able to buck the odds and win the Triple Crown? I say he will.
I certainly don't see a horse that will be able to compete with him at the Preakness. Although the Belmont will be a stiff challenge, the ease with which this horse pulled away from his competitors down the stretch at the Derby tells me this horse has the speed and stamina to win in New York.
This is going to be the year of California Chrome. He will win the Triple Crown.