California Chrome and Victor Espinoza: Predictions for Triple Crown, Preakness

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California Chrome and Victor Espinoza: Predictions for Triple Crown, Preakness
David Goldman/Associated Press

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: 

2014 Kentucky Derby Results
Pos. Post Horse Jockey Trainer
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: 

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: 

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: 

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?

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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. 

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