Tonalist won the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes by getting a nice, easy lead. Winning that race is a feather in his cap since it was over the Belmont Park dirt. That dirt that day was muddy and sealed like a highway.
He is sired by Tapit, one of the hottest sires going. If Joel Rosario can get Tonalist settled on the lead, he can be dangerous. At 8-1 or higher, he’s a solid horse to have underneath in exotics.
Wicked Strong, 6-1
Just like in the Kentucky Derby, Wicked Strong will be the second choice and is the biggest threat to defeat California Chrome and ruin the Triple Crown bid.
Wicked Strong is a sure play to win and place in this field. He’s been training as well as any horse in this field, and if he runs back to that 104 Beyer he earned while winning the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, then Chrome will have his work cut out for him down the lane.
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens told NYRA.com's Phil Janack:
I'm pretty confident; as confident as I can be. I really like how he's doing. I think we're going into the race as good as we can hope. It's a big, prestigious race and people are going to take a shot, especially with the distance being a big question for everybody. People are more apt to take a shot here than anywhere.
California Chrome, 3-5
Now the big horse. California Chrome has done nothing wrong.
He has the added benefit of having a jockey in the irons who has been there before. All in all, from a betting perspective, he’s not a great play unless you single him in multirace tickets like the Pick 4 and Pick 6.
Even keying him on top in exactas and trifectas won’t yield too much. Everyone will be betting $2 on him to win as a souvenir ticket (which is free money for NYRA since those will go un-cashed).
Chrome has the advantage and will likely be the speed in this race. If he can clip off a 0.48 half-mile and three-quarters in 1:12, watch out. It could be Afleet Alex all over again...and Affirmed.
Art Sherman told NYRA.com's Phil Janack:
I feel better about this race than I have any other race, to be honest with you, just looking at the horse and saying, 'Wow.' I see how far he's advanced. I know it'll be tougher going a mile and a half, but this horse is a good horse. I think he's the real McCoy. They better worry about me, I can tell you that.