After winning the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, talented colt California Chrome and his team will travel to the Belmont Stakes in an attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
California Chrome is riding a six-race winning streak and has looked impervious during his run of success. Not only did he win the Derby and the Preakness, but he also managed to win the Santa Anita Derby, San Felipe Stakes, California Cup Derby and King Glorious Stakes.
RJ Bell of ESPN talked about the betting line coming into this race:
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
Now the focus of horse racing fans shifts to the Belmont Stakes and the possibility that California Chrome could legitimately win this race. Chrome would become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978.
SportsCenter talked about Chrome’s attempt to make history:
Lucky number 13? California Chrome is 13th horse to win both Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes since last Triple Crown in 1978.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 17, 2014
It’s worth noting that the previous Triple Crown winner before Affirmed was Seattle Slew in 1977, and that horse is a distant relative of California Chrome. For those with any doubts about his pedigree, the lineage is undeniable.
Despite everything going California Chrome’s way thus far, there could be a major hang-up as the team prepares for Belmont. The team has used nasal strips to help the horse breathe better and avoid injury, but there is a serious question surrounding whether New York will allow him to run with the strip.
If the gaming commission vetoes the idea, there is a chance California Chrome won’t run.
When asked about the nasal strips by Steve Almasy and Ray Sanchez of CNN, veteran trainer Art Sherman said: “The horse has been on a six-race winning streak with nasal strips. I don't know why they would ban you from wearing one, but we'll have to cross that bridge when we get there, I guess.”
In response to Sherman’s claim, the New York State Gaming Commission released a statement, via CNN:
Neither the New York State Gaming Commission nor the stewards at the New York Racing Association have received a request to use nasal strips in the June 7 Belmont Stakes. If a request to use nasal strips is made, the decision on whether to permit them or not will be fully evaluated and determined by the stewards.
No horse racing fan wants to see the Triple Crown dreams of an entire team derailed by something as simple as a nasal strip. The hope is that the gaming commission understands the impact that a possible win would have on the sport and allows the strip.
If California Chrome is allowed to race at Belmont, though, he will win the race. Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form talked about how well Chrome performed last weekend:
A few thoughts on Preakness: California Chrome must best. Had to move with Social Inclusion at 1/2, finished 8 in front of him. #Preakness— Jay Privman (@DRFPrivman) May 17, 2014
Led by trainer Art Sherman and jockey Victor Espinoza, this horse has won races every way imaginable. Whether it was getting out to an early lead and never relinquishing it or coming though traffic to make a late pass, California Chrome simply knows how to win.
Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown?
Add in his ability to wait patiently until the right momentum before hitting an extra gear and flying past the competition, and the only remaining question for California Chrome and his team will be his endurance.
If he can run his ideal race at the Belmont Course, there is no horse in the world right now that could knock him off his perch. As long as the nasal strip issue is resolved, horse racing fans will witness the first Triple Crown in almost 40 years.
Predicted Belmont Finish: First
*Stats via HorseRacingNation.com.