California Chrome Triple Crown: Potential Contenders to Spoil Historic Run

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIMay 20, 2014

FILE - MAY 19, 2014:  It was reported that the New York Racing Association approved the use of a nasal breathing strip on the horse California Chrome as he tries for a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness May 19, 2014.
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 17:  Victor Espinoza rides atop California Chrome #3 after winning the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.   (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

After winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, California Chrome has a chance to make history at the Belmont Stakes, but there are a few potential contenders that could spoil his historic run.

California Chrome has won six straight races, looking almost unstoppable during this winning streak that started in December. If that streak extends to seven wins after the Belmont Stakes, California Chrome will be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed back in 1978.

But before California Chrome can do that, he'll have to get through a number of tough horses at the Belmont, so let's take a look at a few contenders that could beat him and keep the Triple Crown drought alive.

 

Social Inclusion

Although he doesn't have a ton of experience, Social Inclusion has proven in just a few races that he has a legitimate shot at taking down California Chrome.

Social Inclusion has competed in just four races in his career, but he's finished in the money in every single one. He won his first two races, including an impressive win at Gulfstream where he set a track record, posting a 1:40.97 final time.

After that, Social Inclusion came in third at the Wood Memorial in April, then came to the Preakness and finished in third once again thanks to a late surge down the stretch. Trainer Manny Azpurua feels confident that his horse is only getting better as time goes by.

"He ran well in spite of all that," Azpurua said about a rough start out of the gate at the Preakness to ESPN's Steve Davidowitz. "We think he's a very good horse still on his way up."

Keeneland Dan from FatBaldGuyRacing.com feels that if Social Inclusion doesn't race at the Belmont, then California Chrome will have little trouble winning the Triple Crown.

There's no denying Social Inclusion's speed, but at 1.5 miles, this will be the longest race he's ever been in, and we'll see if he can hold up down the stretch.

 

Danza

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03:  Danza #4, ridden by Joe Bravo, takes part in the post parade prior the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Danza didn't race at the Preakness, but that has given him time to rest as he prepares to try and edge out California Chrome once again.

In five career races, Danza has won two and finished in the money in all of them. He came up with an impressive upset win at the Arkansas Derby in April, winning by 4 3/4 lengths after heading into the race at just 41-1 odds.

A few weeks later, Danza headed to the Kentucky Derby, finishing in third behind Commanding Curve and California Chrome. After taking some rest between races, trainer Todd Pletcher feels like Danza is on track to have a strong race at the Belmont.

"Perfect, everything I wanted, nice and easy," Pletcher told Brisnet.com about Danza's return to the worktab. 

After looking at the field, Brian Zipse from Horse Racing Nation believes that Danza is the top contender to take down California Chrome.

Considering how consistent Danza has been, it's hard to argue with that logic.

 

Ride On Curlin

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 14:  Exercise rider Bryan Beccia takes Ride On Curlin over the track in preparation for the 139th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 14, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

While he hasn't gotten a win during the first two legs of the Triple Crown, Ride On Curlin will try to change that at the Belmont.

Unlike Danza and Social Inclusion, Ride On Curlin has plenty of racing experience. He's been in 11 races, winning two and finishing in the money in all but two. Ride On Curlin finished seventh at the Kentucky Derby, then turned things around and came just short of taking down California Chrome at the Preakness, finishing in second.

Experience could be a big factor for Ride On Curlin, the son of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin, but endurance will be just as crucial. The longest race Ride On Curlin has raced in was the Kentucky Derby, and he finished seventh. Trainer Bill Gowan is hoping that isn't a sign of things to come at the Belmont.

Ride On Curlin hasn't won a race since January, but Gowan is going to try and change that in a couple of weeks.