Diane Bondareff/Associated Press
Can Chrome win the Triple Crown?
Will California Chrome become No. 12? And what about those nasal strips?
The question everyone wants to know. The question that everyone—including competitors want to see—can Chrome win the Triple Crown? There is no doubt who the best three-year-old colt is this year. Winning two classics such as the Derby and Preakness solidified Chrome as the head of his class and also makes him a very rich stallion prospect (not to mention a lock as Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse later this year).
But can he do it? Yes, he can, but it won't be easy. He has the perfect running style for this distance. He can be on the lead, but as he proved in the Preakness, he can sit back a few lengths and draft in behind the leaders. He can accelerate when asked as he did in the Derby when he opened up by five down the stretch. In the Preakness, he ran away from the immensely talented Social Inclusion.
Chrome has run 19.5 furlongs in three weeks. That's a grand piano on his back that no other horse can carry. Yes, he can do it, but for the over 100,000 people who will show up at Belmont Park, it's going to be a pulse-pounder, a nail-biter.
And now there's a possibility he won't even run. What's that about? There could be an issue with him not being able to wear the nasal strips he's had over the last six races, per Gary Mihoces of USA Today. Imagine that, after running in California, Kentucky and Maryland, something as silly as equine nasal strips could derail Chrome's bid for the Triple Crown.
Hopefully, a resolution is made that is satisfactory to the owners, because if they don't feel welcome, they may take their ball and go home.
How will the Preakness skippers perform?
The second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers from the Kentucky Derby all plan on running in the Belmont Stakes. Let's come out and say it: They wimped out of the Preakness. The three horses that ran in the Derby and wheeled back in the Preakness ran first, second and fourth.
Now with five weeks rest, will Commanding Curve, Danza, Wicked Strong and Samraat roll to victory? That's unclear, but they are going to give Chrome the biggest challenge of his career.
This will be Chrome's 13th career race. Those who are superstitious and feel that's bad luck may want to back the Preakness skippers. Commanding Curve, Danza and Wicked Strong are all closers. If they get the pace they want, Chrome could be in trouble.
Can Todd Pletcher win his third Belmont Stakes?
Todd Pletcher may saddle as many as three horses in this year's Belmont Stakes. He's won one Derby and no Preaknesses, but he's got two Belmonts to his credit. He won in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches and in 2013 with Palace Malice. Pletcher likes skipping the Preakness to take his shot at the Belmont.
He's got Danza (the Arkansas Derby winner), Intense Holiday and Commissioner, second in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.
Commissioner's sire, A.P. Indy, won the Belmont Stakes in 1992, and his offspring tend to have more stamina than most. Commissioner—and Pletcher—could be dangerous come June 7.