After an ideal post draw, California Chrome now looks like the easy choice to win the 2014 Belmont Stakes and make history with a Triple Crown title.
The Triple Crown is one of the most difficult titles in sports. Only 11 horses have ever accomplished the feat, and California Chrome is seeking to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed did so in 1978. With how dominant the horse has been, it really looks like California Chrome is going to finally break the 36-year drought.
In 12 career races, California Chrome has won eight of them. What's even more impressive has been just how consistent he's been, as he's dominated the competition with six consecutive wins. The last time he lost came back in November at the Golden State Juvenile. But since then, no one has been able to take him down.
The past two races have showcased California Chrome's skill on the national stage, with a dominant win at the Kentucky Derby followed by a strong push down the final stretch at the Preakness Stakes. While those races have been impressive enough, trainer Art Sherman feels like this could be the horse's best race.
“I really feel better about this race than any other race,” Sherman told Joe Drape from The New York Times. “I think he is a tough horse, and they better worry about me, I can tell you that. I know there are a lot of fresh horses coming in to take shots at me.”
California Chrome drew the No. 2 post on Wednesday, which means that the horse will be starting closer to the inside. As Chris Murray from the Reno Gazette Journal points out, horses on the inside in this 1 1/2-mile race tend to better.
In fact, according to Belmont-Stakes.info, 11 previous Belmont winners have come from the No. 2 post, with 47 winners coming from the first three posts.
Along with a solid post draw, California Chrome has a solid supporting cast around him with Sherman and jockey Victor Espinoza. Espinoza has come close to leading a horse to a Triple Crown before, riding War Emblem to wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before coming in eighth at the Belmont in 2002. He's come as close as second back in 2001 at the Belmont, but now he'll have a chance to win.
The big question will be how California Chrome will fare on a 1 1/2-mile track, the longest of any of the Triple Crown races. However, he showed that stamina wasn't a factor in the other two Triple Crown races, with the colt blowing by the field in the final stretch while other horses started to slow down.
The field is filled with potential contenders, but California Chrome has beaten most of these horses in prior races. He may have already been the favorite before, but now that California Chrome will be starting on the inside, it's hard to see any other horse winning on Saturday.