Two down, one to go—California Chrome is entering elite territory and nearing history as he heads to the 2014 Belmont Stakes in pursuit of the Triple Crown.
No horse has won the coveted Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, while California Chrome is the 13th horse in that 36-year span to take both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. None of the previous 12 went on to win the Triple Crown at Belmont.
Belmont Park poses a new danger for California Chrome with a long track, and his abilities will be tested like they haven't been before. However, the same was said of both of the previous two Triple Crown legs—each of which he won.
Let's take a look at the latest odds for California Chrome winning the Triple Crown, and assess his chances.
|California Chrome: 2014 Belmont Stakes|
|California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||-115 (20/23)|
|Info via BelmontStakes.com, Odds via Oddsshark.com|
Note: Odds courtesy of Oddsshark.com
California Chrome's Triple Crown Chances Entering Belmont Stakes
A Triple Crown can't come fast enough for horse racing, which hasn't seen such a feat in going on 40 years but has been teased into believing in it happening after every single Kentucky Derby.
But the best chance in recent history might be the one yet to unfold.
California Chrome did win both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and those two wins alone seemingly make him all but expected to win in Belmont. But it's the success that he had prior that further captivates his story.
In four races leading up to Churchill Downs, California Chrome won by a combined 24 lengths—an average of six lengths per race. For comparison, he hasn't won either Triple Crown race by more than two lengths despite blowing both open down the stretch.
A win at Belmont wouldn't just make it seven straight victories for California Chrome, but it would make him the most successful race horse of this generation.
That resonated with assistant trainer Alan Sherman—who is helping father Art, the head trainer—as the team arrived at Belmont, per The Blood-Horse's Steve Haskin via ESPN:
"It means the world to all of us," he said. "It's been an unbelievable ride and so much fun. He's taken us on the ride of our lives. I'm so proud of my dad to be able to do this at this stage of his career. He really deserves it."
"You always hope they handle the track, but so far he hasn't had trouble with any track he's ever run on," Sherman said.
The hoping that Sherman speaks of surrounds unfamiliarity with the race track at Belmont Park. Not only has California Chrome never raced there, but he's never been 1 1/2 miles—the elongated length of the Triple Crown's final leg.
Of course, no other horse has traveled that distance either. So at the very least, California Chrome will be feeling it out with the rest of the field.
As he's shown time and time again, California Chrome is a few lengths better than the rest of the competition this year. Whether they run 1 1/2 miles or 12, one horse stands out from the rest, and it's the one competing for the Triple Crown.
Other horses have shown the ability to cut the lead on California Chrome late, but with preparing for the elongated track at the forefront of Sherman and company's minds in the weeks heading into Belmont, the history-making horse figures to be ready.
Horse information courtesy of BelmontStakes.com unless otherwise noted