As June 7 draws ever nearer, Triple Crown anticipation and discussions are reaching a fever pitch. Only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing in the United States, claiming the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and Belmont the same year. And of those winners and losers of the past, many think California Chrome has one of the best chances since the Triple Crown was last won in 1978, but we have heard this story before. In 2008 Big Brown looked like a solid candidate to win at Belmont, but fell apart down the stretch. More recently, in 2012 I’ll Have Another appeared to be headed to Triple Crown immortality as well, just to be pulled a day before the Belmont Stakes and retired. Can California Chrome do what 12 horses have not been able to since 1978? Let’s look a little closer.
California Chrome Wins the Triple Crown If …
In probably his best race yet, California Chrome looked better in the Preakness than he did in the Kentucky Derby. So the California colt bred from a bargain basement $10,500 combined pedigree stands to be either the 12th Triple Crown winner, or the 13th horse to fail to turn the trifecta since Affirmed. California Chrome will win the Triple Crown if he keeps on his impressive roll. Ever since applying a small nasal strip to the horse’s nose, trainer Art Sherman has seen his horse go on to win six straight races. And jockey Victor Espinoza has Triple Crown experience, riding War Emblem in 2002 in a failed attempt. Also, with 12 horses, some of them very fresh, this will probably be a fast field Saturday. California Chrome has shown the ability to rise to any challenge, so the fresher horses may very well push him on to victory.
California Chrome Misses the Triple Crown Win If …
This horse race is much longer than the previous two Triple Crown legs. Also known as The Run for the Carnations, Belmont is more aptly nicknamed The Test of the Champion. Countless horses have failed to win this race for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, as just mentioned, many horses sat out the Preakness and will be fresh as daisies. The extra length added to the fact that this is the third world-class level competition California Chrome has faced in just five weeks makes the task even more daunting. And sometimes, there is just something mystical or odd which occurs to keep a Triple Crown victory from happening. In 1998 Real Quiet was making some real noise as he leapt out to what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. However, Victory Gallop did exactly that, and the potential Triple Crown winner became real quiet very quickly.
Vegas Odds on Horses to Win the 2014 Belmont Stakes
Obviously, California Chrome is showing as the well-deserved favorite to win the 146th Belmont stakes. With $1.5 million of purse money in the race, an increase of $500,000 over last year, owners and trainers all want a piece of that pie. So, how do you pick the Belmont Stakes winner this year? After California Chrome at 11/10 odds to win the Belmont Stakes, Ride On Curlin is showing odds of 11/2. Commanding Curve and Tonalist are currently going off at 15/2, with Wicked Strong at approximately 17/2. You can go with one of those favorites, who have all looked very strong in their young careers. Or you can take a chance on a long-odds horse, like Matuszak at 50/1 or Commissioner at 33/1. Longshot Birdstone in 2004 was sitting at 36/1 when he shot out of the gate, and ended up beating Triple Crown candidate Smarty Jones as well as the rest of the field. So longshot winners can make it happen in Elmont.
Elsewhere in Thoroughbred Horse Racing
For the 2014 English Derby at Epsom Downs (UK), Australia seems the cream of the crop once again, currently boasting 7/5 odds. The heavy favorite for the Investec Derby has only had one previous start this year, finishing third. Geoffrey Chaucer is a colt who may stand a chance at defeating Australia, and is running 8/1 odds against. True Story could upset as well, and is currently 11/1. At this year’s English Oaks, also at Epsom Downs, Friday’s Investec Oaks has Taghrooda as the huge favorite. However, that filly is stepping up to a new level of competition, after compiling an undefeated record in two starts. Marvellous is another filly who has looked true to her name, winning the Irish 1,000 Guineas for trainer Aidan O’Brien. That horse currently stands 11/4 in the English Oaks, and could spoil Taghrooda’s day.