If you tuned into the wild world of thoroughbred racing this weekend, you saw Kentucky Derby Champion, California Chrome, has succeeded in winning the 139th Preakness Stakes! With the first two legs in the Triple Crown Series under his belt, Chrome is now eyeing the 2014 Belmont Stakes – the final and longest race in the series.
While many believe that California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza have the Belmont in the bag with Chrome’s unbelievable “push-button” speed, the Belmont Stakes is fair game. The Belmont, nicknamed “The Test of the Champion,” is just that – one very long test. At 1 ½ miles, it’s the longest race that these 3-year-olds will run making it a test of endurance.
While the Preakness Stakes and Kentucky Derby come close at 1 3/16 miles and 1 ¼ miles respectively, when horses and jockeys are running at top speeds and fighting for the rail, the distance will ware on them.
California Chrome’s Dilemma.
The nasal strip. By now, you’re probably somewhat aware of the discussion taking place revolving whether or not California Chrome will be able to race in the Belmont because of his use of nasal strips.
Nasal strips allow a horse to breathe easier and reduce the risk of bleeding to the lungs during the heavy exertion that happens during racing. Chrome is used to racing and training with these nasal strips and it has never been an issue at past tracks because they do not enhance performances and they do not pose any health risks to the horses.
However, a policy was in place prohibiting the use of nasal strips at the Belmont.
Fans began to get alarmed that Chrome wouldn’t even have a chance at the Triple Crown because one of his owners was lenient to run him without nasal strips since Chrome has become accustomed to this.
Luckily for all of us who are following California Chrome’s progress and were excited about a possible Triple Crown champion, the New York State Gaming Commission, the New York Racing Association and the Jockeys Club agreed to end the Belmont policy on Monday, and California Chrome is still scheduled to run in the Belmont Stakes!
On Tuesday, California Chrome, his owners and his trainers arrived at Belmont Park and have begun training for the race of a lifetime. All eyes will be on this Chrome and Espinoza as they run the race of their lives on June 7, for all the marbles!
Take a look at these facts regarding the Triple Crown to see exactly what odds California Chrome is up against:
- The last winner of the Triple Crown series was Affirmed in 1978
- Since 1978, 12 thoroughbreds have won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but have failed to win the Belmont Stakes
- For Chrome and several other contenders, this will be the third race in five weeks, which can ware on the horses body (trainers typically rest several weeks in between racing)
- This will be the longest race (1 ½ miles) that any of the contenders have ever run
Take a look at some of the top contenders to be on the lookout for, apart from the favorite, California Chrome:
- Wicked Strong – raced in the Derby, but sat out of the Preakness to rest and train with hopes of coming out with a win at the Belmont – he’s a closer like Chrome and this could be trouble
- Tonalist – sired by Tapit, the most sought-out sire; Tapit colts have been winning Grade Stake races left and right, and have proven to go the distance
- Social Inclusion – moved early in the Preakness Stakes, forcing California Chrome (a closer) to open his gate early to stay in the race; if he keeps his calm and doesn’t wash out at the gate like he did in the Preakness, he’ll be a handful
- Commanding Curve – finished in 2nd at the Kentucky Derby with a pace that showed his stamina; he closed hard on Chrome in the final leg and with the extra distance, he could really pick up speed
- Commissioner – this horse can run all day and was bred for races like the Belmont; with bloodlines built for stamina, this colt could be a problem
Be a Part of the Triple Crown Series: 2015 Kentucky Derby
We wait for this time all year long and next year, you can be a part of the excitement! With Official Ticket Packages to the first leg of the Triple Crown Series, the Kentucky Derby, you can have your adrenaline pumping in some of the best seats in Churchill Downs!
Not to mention, you’ll have exclusive hospitality access, coveted amenities such as private open or cash bars, complimentary gourmet buffets, official party access and much more!