Triple Crown 2014: Examining California Chrome's Chance at History in Belmont

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Triple Crown 2014: Examining California Chrome's Chance at History in Belmont
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Since 1978, 35 horses have tried and 35 horses have failed. Winning the Triple Crown is not only a historical accomplishment, it's also becoming a near impossibility.

Following a riveting Preakness Stakes in which California Chrome won by a full 1 1/2 lengths over Ride On Curlin, the Belmont Stakes might be the setting for history to take place.

The only question that remains now is: Will he do it? Can the first horse from Los Alamitos to win the Kentucky Derby become the first colt to claim a Triple Crown since Affirmed did so 36 years ago?

One hiccup for the gelding is already out of the way. After "Nasal-strip Gate" finally came to a conclusion, with California Chrome being able to wear the controversial nasal strip, it's now time to look ahead at whether or not the colt can conquer the Belmont Stakes and win the elusive Triple Crown.

 

Breakdown of Belmont Stakes

Let's be honest, at this point it doesn't look like anyone can catch California Chrome.

After torching the field on the final furlong at Pimlico, the Golden State gelding has more than outrun his pedigree. And with no signs of slowing up yet, there's no reason to doubt his ability to do the same again at Belmont Park.

Just how important was California Chrome getting the go ahead to wear the nasal strip? ESPN Stats & Info notes the colt's record before and after donning the strip:

That's a career-changing nasal garment for the thoroughbred.

But, issue now resolved, the horse will officially trot out at Belmont in hopes of taking the third leg. As for how big the odds are heading into the massive race, R.J. Bell of ESPN provides a look at the current line for California Chrome to take it all:

What lies ahead of the colt, jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Art Sherman is slightly more daunting than what they faced at the Preakness. After several contenders from the Kentucky Derby sat out of Pimlico, they are primed for a huge run at Belmont.

Here's a look at the projected field in the Belmont Stakes, per Danonymous Racing:

Will California Chrome win the Triple Crown?

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With geldings like Wicked Strong, Commanding Curve, Danza and Samraat all set to return, this race is anything but assured for California Chrome.

The Boston-bred Wicked Strong nailed down a strong run despite his poor post and will be looking for another strong run after his Wood Memorial win. Samraat did nothing but win before losing the Wood and the Derby in a matter of weeks, but still has plenty in the tank to contend.

As for both Danza and Commanding Curve, who came up just short to California Chrome in the Derby, both might benefit from the rest, while the favorite ran yet again at the Preakness. But even with the extra rest, the field still lags behind the captivating colt.

 

Conclusion

Despite the fact that the field is stacked yet again at Belmont Park, California Chrome has shown no signs that are telling of a fall from grace.

While the post positions will still have a huge bearing on whether or not the horse navigates his way through the field yet again, nothing has stopped him to this point. ESPN Stats & Info notes the history behind California Chrome's win at Pimlico:

Simply put, this is a horse of destiny. Given the fact that he's not only outrun his pedigree and dominated both fields to this point, trotting out against a handful of runner-ups shouldn't deter the gelding from making history.

And on Saturday, June 7, California Chrome will do just that with a monumental win at the Preakness Stakes. Maybe it isn't so impossible after all.

 

Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.

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