As if the intrigue needed to be any higher to draw interest, the 2014 Belmont Stakes offers more than just an amazing horse race. With a chance at history being made, this year's run might be one of the most memorable in the last three decades.
California Chrome faces a daunting task in winning the Triple Crown, but comes in with confidence after capturing the first two crown jewels. Running against competition like Ride On Curlin and Wicked Strong yet again, both colts are looking to finally overtake the golden stallion.
With nearly perfect conditions expected, per The Weather Channel, there will likely be no hitches at Belmont Park. If California Chrome gets off to the same start as Churchill Downs and Pimlico, Belmont Park might be in for a sensational Saturday.
Before the colts take to the track on Saturday evening, here's a look at the pedigree information, odds and predictions for the top horses.
|Proj. Finish||Horse||Odds||Pedigree (Sire)|
|1||California Chrome||1-1||Lucky Pulpit|
|2||Ride On Curlin||5-1||Curlin|
|3||Wicked Strong||9-1||Hard Spun|
|4||Social Inclusion||33-1||Pioneer of The Nile|
|6||Commanding Curve||15-2||Master Command|
|10||General A Rod||N/A||Roman Ruler|
|12||Kid Cruz||40-1||Lemon Drop Kid|
It's his time to shine, and he's just 1.5 miles away from being one of the best colts in thoroughbred racing history.
Thirty-six years after Affirmed won the Triple Crown, California Chrome is on the cusp of completing the strenuous feat. As for his jockey Victor Espinoza, he'll be trying his hand for a second time at the accomplishment after winning the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes on War Emblem.
Espinoza spoke about his colt over the weekend, per Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times:
“He’s a little stronger, has a little more weight on than the last time I saw him,” Espinoza said. “This morning it was just easy for him. It was nice for him to be able to stretch his legs and get some air in his lungs. He’s ready for Saturday.”
Though he's viewed as the favorite coming into the race, the competition is strong.
After Commanding Curve came up just short at the Derby and Wicked Strong stumbled out of the gate, both are hoping to dethrone the colt in New York.
The ultimate dark horse candidate, Wicked Strong comes into the Belmont Stakes with a chip on his shoulder.
After triumphing in the Wood Memorial, a poor showing at the Derby resulted in watching California Chrome start a historic run. Now the colt has a chance to end that run with a win on Saturday.
Brian Zipse of Horse Racing Nation provides his look at the possible horses to knock off Cali Chrome:
Who is most likely to derail California Chrome's Triple Crown? a) Wicked Strong b) Ride On Curlin c) Tonalist d) Commanding Curve e) other— Brian Zipse (@Zipseatthetrack) May 28, 2014
Given the fact that Wicked Strong got the chance to rest while California Chrome was working toward winning the Preakness, the time off might play a huge part in his bid. After nailing down a huge race at the Wood Memorial, a great run at Belmont Park would leave a mark in the horse racing world for years to come.
Who will win the 2014 Belmont Stakes?
Wicked Strong may have a recent win, but Commanding Curve was the colt finishing as the runner-up at the Kentucky Derby.
Heading to the post with 37-1 odds, Commanding Curve trotted past some of the top competition to place at the Derby. The son of Master Command once again comes into the Belmont Stakes with hopes of repeating that success and tracking down California Chrome.
The colt is far from a front runner, and instead would rather make a late run to capture the crown. After falling 12 lengths behind the leader in 18th, Commanding Curve then surged to finish second in the illustrious race.
With a smaller field in New York and less traffic for Commanding Curve to weave his way through, look for the stallion to put up a good fight against California Chrome.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.