History might be made on Saturday evening as California Chrome trots out at the Belmont Stakes in search of the first Triple Crown in over three decades.
With the entire horse racing world awaiting the momentous day, the gelding is just days away from completing the memorable feat. Though he is the obvious favorite coming into the Belmont Stakes, California Chrome isn't the only horse with hopes of pulling out a huge victory.
The 36-year drought might come to an end on Saturday, but with horses like Wicked Strong and Ride On Curlin once again looking to take him down, it's far from a sure thing. Take into account that Commanding Curve also had a great showing at the Kentucky Derby and the field looks like a strong one.
Before the event officially starts on Saturday night, here's a look at the latest odds and analysis for the 2014 Belmont Stakes.
|Ride On Curlin||5-1|
Belmont Stakes Breakdown
The Golden State gelding has been as dominant as any horse through the first two jewels in the Triple Crown. Much of that success is due to a small nasal strip that became a source of controversy following the Preakness Stakes.
Regina Nuzzo of ESPN The Magazine provides details on the nasal strip for California Chrome:
Bleeding in the lungs is one of the worst maladies that racehorses face; it stems from a weak spot in the nose that collapses easily during intense activity. Known formally as Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage, or EIPH, lung bleeding is an often-invisible problem that plagues most racehorses, Poole says. And it's been shown to not only hurt race performance but also delay recovery and potentially cause lung damage...
The strips attach to a spot just above a horse's nostrils, using tension in an embedded piece of springy plastic to keep the nose's weak spot open. The extra airflow translates to big savings in the horse's effort to suck in air; imagine drinking a milk shake with a fat straw compared with a thin one.
Apart from the medical information about nasal strips for horses, it has also proven to help California Chrome find success. Along with his phenomenal wins at Churchill Downs and Pimlico, the colt has been a winner multiple other times with the nasal strip.
ESPN Stats & Info notes just how much the small strip has changed his career:
California Chrome's 1st 6 career races without nasal strip: 2 wins, $105K earnings. His last 6 races with nasal strip: 6 wins, $3.35M— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 19, 2014
If one horse is looking to dethrone California Chrome and has a legitimate chance to do so, it's Ride On Curlin. While the gelding has come up short to the Triple Crown hopeful in the past, he is running strong ahead of the Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Billy Gowan spoke about his horse's chances at the pivotal race, per Claire Novak of BloodHorse.com:
I guarantee my horse will run the turns. He's just that kind of horse, and I think he'll love the turns...I know there's a lot of good horses in the race—Wicked Strong and Commanding Curve and Tonalist, a lot of them—but I'd love to be right off 'Chrome' at the top of the stretch and hook up and see what happens.
With just one race left to stake his claim at a historic feat, California Chrome is still the clear-cut favorite to win it all on Saturday. If he can find his way to the front of the pack yet again to close the race, look for history to be made at the Belmont Stakes.
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