On Saturday, we'll finally know if the 36-year Triple Crown drought will come to an end.
After two sparkling performances at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, California Chrome now has his sights set on the Belmont Stakes.
Since Affirmed last won the coveted Triple Crown in 1978, 12 horses have entered Belmont Park with the same aspirations. However, this race has been the Achilles' heel for Triple Crown hopefuls, as none emerged victorious.
Will California Chrome be the 13th consecutive horse to succumb to the perilous race in Elmont, New York, or will he go down in history?
Before that question is answered, let's take a look at the latest odds, lineup information and top contenders in this year's Belmont Stakes.
2014 Belmont Stakes Odds
|2014 Belmont Stakes Odds|
|Ride On Curlin||5-1|
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com.
2014 Belmont Stakes Lineup
|2014 Belmont Stakes Lineup|
|California Chrome||Art Sherman||Victor Espinoza|
|Commanding Curve||Dallas Stewart||Shaun Bridgmohan|
|Commissioner||Todd Pletcher||Javier Castellano|
|General a Rod||Mike Maker||Rosie Napravnik|
|Kid Cruz||Linda Rice||undecided|
|Matuszak||Bill Mott||Mike Smith|
|Medal Count||Dale L. Romans||Robby Albarado|
|Ride On Curlin||Billy Gowan||John Velazquez|
|Samraat||Rick Violette||Jose Ortiz|
|Social Inclusion||Manny Azpurua||undecided|
|Tonalist||Christophe Clement||Joel Rosario|
|Wicked Strong||Jimmy Jerkens||Rajiv Maragh|
This is the obvious one.
After wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, California Chrome looks to become the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.
The California-bred colt has a great amount of endurance and closing ability—both of which have been well on display during his signature late-race bursts. It certainly doesn't hurt having veteran jockey Victor Espinoza on the reins as well.
This duo was unstoppable during the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. However, racing three times in five weeks could provide some fatigue issues on this 1 1/2-mile track.
Although, according to a tweet from The New York Times, California Chrome has looked sharp during Belmont workouts:
Ride On Curlin
This colt really showed what he's made of at Pimlico.
Ride On Curlin looked fantastic at the Preakness Stakes despite taking on the daunting task of starting at the No. 10 post.
He had a lot of initial ground to make up and was forced out wide for the majority of the race, but his acceleration and speed down the final stretch were nothing short of impressive.
Here's a recap of his battle with California Chrome at the Preakness:
Should California Chrome stumble at Belmont Park, Ride On Curlin could be heavily rewarded.
Despite entering the Kentucky Derby as a major long shot, Commanding Curve was simply electric.
He didn't have a great start to the race and settled in near the rear of the pack in 18th position. However, this horse is incredibly quick and has plenty of endurance. By the race's end, he'd moved past 16 horses to finish second behind California Chrome.
Take a look back at the Kentucky Derby, and keep an eye on No. 17:
The longer distance at Belmont Park appears to suit Commanding Curve nicely.
Although Tonalist is a newcomer to this year's Triple Crown races, he's looked sharp of late.
No stranger to Belmont Park, Tonalist won the Peter Pan Stakes there earlier this year. Capable of running long distances at a blazing pace, the colt blew away his competition—including Belmont Stakes contender Commissioner—with a dominating performance.
Here's a look at his sparkling performance in the Peter Pan Stakes:
Another race like that could earn him a bigger victory on Saturday.
Wicked Strong didn't have a spectacular showing at the Kentucky Derby, finishing in fourth place. However, he looked solid after starting far outside in the No. 20 gate and simply had too much ground to make up.
This may be the best closing horse at Belmont Park. Should Wicked Strong get a clean break out of the gate, expect him to be well in contention down the final stretch.
Here's a look at Wicked Strong working out at Belmont, courtesy of the NYRA's Instagram:
Wicked Strong is yet another horse set to benefit from a lengthier race.
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