The two-week duration between the Preakness Stakes and the 2014 Belmont Stakes seemed like an eternity, as we all waited with bated breath to find out if California Chrome would be the horse to finally end the 36-year Triple Crown drought.
That wait is over.
On Saturday afternoon, the 11-horse field will take the track at Belmont Park in what is expected to be a highly contested and drama-filled race.
Will California Chrome become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978?
We'll know in short order.
As the final seconds before post time tick away, let's take a last-minute look at the field's post positions and updated odds, as well as predict which horses will earn their owners a big check in the wake of the Belmont Stakes.
2014 Belmont Stakes Post Positions and Odds
|5||Ride On Curlin||12-1|
|10||General a Rod||20-1|
Odds courtesy of BelmontStakes.com.
Prize Money Predictions
|Place||Ride On Curlin||$280,000|
|Eighth||General a Rod||$30,000|
Prize money figures courtesy of TheTripleCrown.com.
California Chome's Top Threats
Ride On Curlin
After his sparkling showing in the Preakness, Ride On Curlin has emerged as arguably the top threat to California Chrome in the Belmont Stakes.
The 1 1/2-mile race is perfectly suited for this horse due to his remarkable closing ability.
At Pimlico, Ride On Curlin began outside in the No. 10 gate. Despite having plenty of ground to make up, he surged down the final stretch in a battle with California Chrome, finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind the California-bred colt.
Here's a look back at the fantastic duel between Ride On Curlin and California Chrome in the Preakness Stakes:
With a favorable starting position in the No. 5 gate at Belmont Park, expect Ride On Curlin to maintain a good position throughout the race, giving him an even better chance of flourishing down the final stretch.
Like Ride On Curlin, Wicked Strong is a phenomenal closer. He had the daunting task of starting far outside in the No. 20 gate at the Kentucky Derby.
Despite being held outside for a good majority of the race, he was able to weave his way though the field, making up plenty of ground over the final furlong, to finish in fourth place.
He'll start in the No. 9 post at Belmont Park—a significantly better location from where he began in the Derby.
Wicked Strong's one negative tendency is his impatience in the starting gate. However, according to a tweet from David Grening of the Daily Racing Form, he looked good in his Belmont Park gate schooling session:
Wicked Strong was perfect in gate schooling session on training track this morning. Went in twice, stood quietly pic.twitter.com/r5iWpjuv9J— David Grening (@DRFGrening) June 4, 2014
Commanding Curve may have been the second-most impressive horse at the Kentucky Derby.
Starting from the No. 17 gate, this colt wan't given much of a chance to be a huge factor in the race. Well, he sure proved us wrong.
His ability to maintain a blazing pace throughout the race and have enough energy left to close in on the leader down the final stretch was simply astonishing.
Take a look back at the Kentucky Derby and keep an eye on No. 17:
After opting for rest rather than running in the Preakness, Commanding Curve should be able to show the same kind of endurance he did at Churchill Downs. Expect him to be well in the mix near the conclusion of the race.