With another huge win by California Chrome this past Saturday in the Preakness the stage has been set, we hope, for him to have a shot at winning the Triple Crown.
I received some letters and emails from readers who are just getting into racing and really did not know much about the Triple Crown. Well, it is a series of races for 3 year olds, the first being the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky. The second leg is the Preakness in Baltimore with the final jewel, and the toughest race of them all, the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York.
The Kentucky Derby is always run on the first Saturday in May with the Preakness just two weeks later. Then there are three weeks to the Belmont, which will be run this year on Saturday, June 7. The Kentucky Derby is run at 1-1/4 miles and all runners carry 126 pounds, except if a filly runs in the race. The Preakness is run at 1-3/16 and all carry 126 pounds except if a filly gets in. The final leg is run at 1-1/2 miles and all carry 126 pounds except if a filly runs.
The last winner of all three races was Affirmed back in 1978. There have been some horses that have come very close since but none could get the job done. I’ll Have Another looked to have a huge shot but was hurt before the race and did not run. So here we go again with California Chrome having that shot for two low profile partners who operate Dumbass Stables and a dapper old trainer who has a shot at making history. It won’t be easy and he still needs to reach the starting gate.
The one thing that could have dampened the chances of California Chrome would have been if he was prevented from wearing his nasal strip, which he has done for his last six wins to help him breathe. However, Monday three stewards at Belmont allowed the use of nasal strips so Chrome is good to go.
There will be some very fresh runners in the Belmont Stakes that will be very dangerous, Commanding Curve finished a very fast closing second behind California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby. His connections, West Point Thoroughbreds and trainer Dallas Stewart, have already gone public saying they will beat him at Belmont.
Also with a big shot will be a fresh Danza who ran a very commendable third in the Derby despite trouble. He will be eager and ready for trainer Todd Pletcher. To make things even tougher for Chrome there will be a horse trained by Christopher Clement by the name of Tonalist, who just won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont and really looks to be an up an comer.
The stage is set and we hope to get some good weather. It now becomes a waiting game and a media buzz time.
What is wrong with Churchill Downs? The owners of California Chrome were very unhappy with the way they were treated in Louisville. Partner Steve Coburn made a statement after the Preakness about Churchill’s poor hospitality and the other owner, Perry Martin, didn’t even attend the race as he was still unhappy with his treatment in Louisville. Coburn did say, however, the way he was treated in Maryland was great.
The great Ron Turcotte, who rode Secretariat in his Triple Crown win and who is now in a wheelchair due to a riding accident, was also very unhappy with Churchill Downs. They would not even supply him with a place to park for the race.
We will be keeping an eye open for any happenings coming up to the Belmont and keep everyone up to date. This will be great for racing and for Las Vegas as the race books will be packed. We know there will be big doings in most Vegas books with giveaways and big twin Q’s.
Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].