It has been over three decades since a horse took the Triple Crown in thoroughbred racing, when Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978.
While much has changed in the horse racing world since that point, the hopes of seeing a gelding take the ultimate prize haven't faded for fans of the sport. This year, they might just have a horse that can win it all in California Chrome.
Following his triumphant trot down the final stretch at Churchill Downs, California Chrome reinvigorated faith in horse racing fans. The colt also enters the Preakness Stakes as the favorite once again, and rightfully so after his stunning performance in the Derby.
But California Chrome isn't the only gelding to watch throughout the rest of the Triple Crown events, with several hopeful horses looking to surpass him in Baltimore.
With the Derby in the rearview mirror and the Preakness less than two weeks away, here's a look at the favorites that will rise to the challenge on May 17.
This one pretty much goes without saying, but watch for California Chrome to continue his run of success in the Preakness Stakes.
After a dominant performance at Churchill Downs, the gelding is already looking like a prime candidate for the Triple Crown. His 77-year-old owner, Art Sherman, spoke about the horse after the win, per Beth Harris of the Associated Press:
It's pretty cool, I can tell you. Beating all the big boys, and maybe they had their doubts that this horse wasn't a runner, but when you run against him you find out. He's the real McCoy, this one.
Five days at Pimlico would be perfect for me. That way I wouldn't have to do much with him. Just school him, stand him in the gate and let him get familiarized with the surroundings.
Can California Chrome win the Triple Crown?
While Sherman was simply proud of his colt winning the Run for the Roses, owner Steve Coburn is already looking at the rest of the races, telling Harris, "I told people this colt will go down in history. When he wins the Triple Crown, he will be the first California-bred to ever win a Triple Crown. That's where we're going."
No pressure, Cali Chrome.
But after putting on a show for the fans under the Twin Spires, the horse will carry that momentum into Baltimore with a chance to live up to those expectations. Can he take another commanding win at the Preakness? That will be answered next Saturday as he gallops onto the track yet again.
Not only is Danza named after the boss, he was nearly the boss at the Derby.
The colt, named for Tony Danza, finished just behind Commanding Curve in third for the premier race in Louisville. But following a strong performance, Danza will be stiff competition for California Chrome in the Preakness Stakes.
While he wasn't able to win the race, he was also considered a favorite heading into the Kentucky Derby, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Kentucky Derby is about to get underway. The favorites in our poll were California Chrome (21%), Danza (19%) & Wicked Strong (17%).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2014
With a strong pedigree and a win at the Arkansas Derby leading up to the solid run in Louisville, Danza once again looks like a contender for the second part of the Triple Crown.
After recovering for a sturdy finish at the Derby, look for Danza to once again be near the front of the pack at the Preakness Stakes.
He's just a horse you can't count out, no matter what post he starts from.
Despite getting a tough draw out of the 20th post and eventually moving to the 19th post after the withdrawal of Hoppertunity, Wicked Strong nearly placed on race day. Finishing fourth put him just outside of the top of the class, but the Boston horse should be a contender again in Baltimore.
Donna Brothers of NBC provides analysis of Wicked Strong's, well, wicked strong performance in the Derby:
Post Derby thoughts: Wicked Strong was just that. Lost it in the post parade, recovered in the warm-up, ran a wicked strong race.— Donna Brothers (@donnabbrothers) May 4, 2014
From the outset, the fourth-place finish might not inspire optimism for racing fans. But taking into account the struggles that he endured leading up to the race, the Boston horse has a good chance to once again be near the front in the Preakness Stakes.
The Wood Memorial winner has a wicked strong fanbase that will be rooting wicked hard for him. If he earns a better starting point in Maryland, look for Wicked Strong to emerge from the field as a favorite and potential winner.
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