California Chrome has been on an absolute tear over the past few months, and with the 2014 Belmont Stakes taking place on Saturday, the horse has terrific odds to make history and join the likes of Secretariat and Affirmed as a Triple Crown champion.
Only 11 horses have ever won the Triple Crown, and no one has won the title since Affirmed did so back in 1978. While California Chrome has certainly looked dominant over the past few years, he wouldn't be the first horse to lose at the Belmont after winning the first two legs. Over the past 20 years, there have been eight to fall short, including I'll Have Another back in 2012.
However, given what he's done during his career, it's hard to not like California Chrome's chances of winning the Triple Crown, especially when looking at the morning-line odds. According to the Belmont Stakes official website, California Chrome had 3-5 odds to win the race, which is by far the best odds of any horse in the field.
There's a very good reason for California Chrome being such a heavy favorite, and that's because he's been unstoppable since December. He has eight career wins in 12 races, but six of those have come in his last six races, with his last loss coming all the way back on November 1.
The last two races have been eye-opening for casual horse racing fans. California Chrome absolutely blew by the competition at the Kentucky Derby with a 1 3/4 lengths victory, then won by another 1 1/2 lengths at the Preakness.
While those wins were already impressive, trainer Art Sherman feels like the best has yet to come for California Chrome.
“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 will be coming out of the No. 2 post, and that's great news for him. Brian Monzo from WFAN pointed out that it's a good position for the colt, as he's not around a ton of speed, which will give him an opportunity to break away.
I like the post position for Chrome (2), no speed around him..should be able to get to a comfortable position if he breaks clean.— Brian Monzo (@BMonzoWFAN) June 4, 2014
Historically, inside posts have been considerably more successful at the Belmont. According to Belmont-Stakes.info, 11 winners have come from the No. 2 spot, while a combined 47 winners have come from the first three inside posts.
Jockey Victor Espinoza will finally have a chance at redemption on top of California Chrome. The 42-year-old won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with War Emblem back in 2002 but then finished in eighth at the Belmont. He's never won the final leg of the Triple Crown, but he came as close as second in 2001 with A P Valentine.
Espinoza has done a very good job with California Chrome, and this might be his only other chance to make history as a Triple Crown-winning jockey.
There's a lot of good things going for California Chrome right now, and it makes sense that he's the go-to favorite to win the Belmont. Everyone will be watching to see if he can make history, and if he can, California Chrome will go down as one of the greatest horses ever.