Results of the 2014 Preakness Stakes on Saturday left no doubt that California Chrome can win the Triple Crown.
But whether he actually will is a different matter.
Early odds peg California Chrome as a 10-13 favorite to follow his Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories with another in the Belmont Stakes, according to RJ Bell of Pregame.com:
California Chrome is a favorite to win the Triple Crown (-130 at Sportsbook.ag) - rest of Belmont field +100— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) May 17, 2014
Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown?
California Chrome was favored more heavily, though, entering the Preakness, having 3-5 odds. Behind the steeper odds are potential fatigue and a stacked field.
The Derby is 1 1/4 miles long. The Preakness is 1 3/16 miles long. At 1 1/2 miles long, the Belmont is a different animal.
Having pushed himself to the limit in two strenuous races, a chance exists that California Chrome will tire down the stretch in Elmont, New York. After all, that's why trainers often keep their horses who lose the Derby out of the Preakness. They get five weeks of rest for the Belmont.
And that's where most of California Chrome's competition will come from.
Gary Mihoces of USA Today reported that the following horses used Pimlico as a halftime break and will return at the Belmont.
"contenders" for Belmont includes Derby horses sitting out #Preakness: Commanding Curve, Danza, Intense Holiday, Samraat & Wicked Strong.— Gary Mihoces (@ByGaryMihoces) May 17, 2014
Commanding Curve finished second in the Derby, Danze third, Wicked fourth and Samraat fifth. Other top contenders will be Social Inclusion, who finished third in the Preakness, as well as Tonalist and Commissioner, who finished first and second, respectively, in the Peter Pan Stakes held at Belmont Park on May 10, according to brisnet.com.
Of course, California Chrome beat most of these horses already. Fatigue is the greatest threat to his Triple Crown pursuit. But the fact that he won the Derby (1 3/4 lengths) and the Preakness (1 1/2 lengths) by distances that had no one holding their breath at the finish line suggests he'll finish strong in New York.
If California Chrome does finish strong, he'd be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report and editor at Wade-O Radio.