On Saturday, California Chrome will attempt to make history by becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
California Chrome has only the Belmont Stakes left to conquer, and we now know where he and the other horses in the field will start.
Here's a look at the post positions and odds for the 146th Belmont Stakes:
|Belmont Stakes 2014 - Post Positions and Odds|
|5||Ride on Curlin||12-1|
|Belmont Stakes Twitter|
As expected, California Chrome is the heavy favorite. Art Sherman's horse couldn't have performed any better than he did at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. After nearly a month of waiting and preparing, it's almost time to chase history.
Victor Espinoza will ride California Chrome, but he's already flirted with the Triple Crown once in his career.
Back in 2002, Espinoza rode War Emblem to wins at Churchill Downs and Pimlico only to be thwarted at the Belmont Stakes.
Per USA Today, Espinoza says things are a little different this time:
I'm more confident this time than in 2002. ...
With War Emblem, he only had one way to go: in the front. It was not that easy for me to ride him; it was difficult (which is) typical when you have a front-running horse. You don't have many options. If something happens, that's it. Your chances are gone.
With California Chrome, it's different. I have a lot of options with California Chrome. I believe I have a better chance than I did in 2002 because I have a different kind of horse.
Obviously, the horse can make all the difference. Are Espinoza's comments just examples of a jockey showing confidence in the horse he rode to this point, or does he truly believe California Chrome is superior to War Emblem?
He may be right and still fall short of the goal. After all, California Chrome isn't racing War Emblem. He has his own field to contend with.
That said, the horse has conquered all previous impediments. It would be crazy to doubt him now.
At 6-1 odds, Wicked Strong is the closest to California Chrome on the odds table.
Coming from the potentially advantageous ninth post position should only help. Per Brisnet.com, the horse looked great breezing five furlongs in preparation for his spoiler run.
In four starts this year, Wicked Strong has one win, which came at Aqueduct in April. A respectable but partially disappointing fourth-place finish at the Kentucky Derby kept the horse on the radar for the Triple Crown season, but no closer than the 6-1 odds.
After skipping the Preakness Stakes, we'll see if Wicked Strong has what it takes to be the horse who ruins the latest Triple Crown dream.
Beware of the Long Shots
When War Emblem failed to grab the Triple Crown, he was bested by long shot Sarava. CBS New York warns about a similar occurrence this year.
"Considering the race’s recent history of long shot winners and Triple Crown flops, the heart will root for history but the head should look for a way to cash a big ticket should the favorite fail."
Here's one horse with long odds who could pay big dividends.
General A Rod
Coming from the 10th position, General A Rod is a 20-1 underdog. He'll have more room to operate and less pressure. At the Preakness he drew the second spot, while he was smashed in the middle in the eighth spot at the Derby.
Neither rendered a good result.
He finished 11th at the Derby and fourth at the Preakness. In five starts in 2014, he has a trio of top-three finishes including a win at the Gulfstream Park Derby.
Considering the pressure is off and expectations are down, General A Rod could be prepped for a surprising run.
There's some concern because the Belmont Stakes is the longest of the Triple Crown tracks, but General A Rod could respond positively to his first outside post position in the big three races.