Belmont Stakes 2014: Can California Chrome go the distance?

Belmont Stakes 2014: California Chrome could become the 12th Triple Crown champion with a win in the Belmont Stakes early Saturday evening in New York. Can California Chrome make history?

Peter Morgan/AP
Exercise rider Willie Delgado gallops California Chrome on a second lap during a workout at Belmont Park, Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Elmont, N.Y.

It hasn't happened in 36 years. Affirmed was the last thoroughbred horse to win all three Triple Crown races in one year.

That's why all eyes will be on California Chrome Saturday at Belmont Park in New York City. California Chrome has won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Now, Chrome has the opportunity to make history in the 146th Belmont Stakes. Ten other thoroughbreds will try to deny him.

The fact that there hasn't been a Triple Crown winner since 1978 is roughly comparable to US pro sports teams not reaching their respective league championship game.

The Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions have been members of the National Football League for over 60 years, but neither franchise has made it to the Super Bowl.

Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals began life 45 years ago as the Montreal Expos, but have never played in the World Series.

The Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association started off 44 years ago as the Buffalo Braves, but have yet to reach the NBA Finals. And the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes were the Winnipeg Jets in a previous incarnation, coming into the NHL 35 years ago. But the Coyotes haven't sniffed the Stanley Cup Final.

No such list of perennial wannabes would be complete without a mention of baseball's Chicago Cubs, who haven't been in the World Series since 1945 and haven't won it in 106 years.

The fact that there have only been 11 horses to pull off the feat in the past 140 years speaks to the challenge. But there are those who believe California Chrome is that rare horse who, with the right breeding, training, and kismet, comes along once in a lifetime.

At Wednesday's post position draw, Chrome took the No. 2 position. That means that on Saturday, Chrome will start one spot from the inside rail, for the mile-and-a-half race – the longest Triple Crown event. Trainer Art Sherman is confident in his horse, leading up to the Belmont.

"I feel better about this race than I have any other race, to be honest with you, just looking at the horse and saying, 'Wow,'" Sherman told "I see how far he's advanced. I know it'll be tougher going a mile and a half, but this horse is a good horse. I think he's the real McCoy.

Some observers feel the distance of the Belmont could prove to be California Chrome's downfall. Even Sherman's son and assistant trainer, Alan, was impressed the first time he saw the New York track up close.

Who might upset California Chrome?

Wicked Strong, the thoroughbred with Boston connections who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness, will start the Belmont from post position No. 9.

Ride On Curlin, who finished runner-up to California Chrome in the Preakness, is back for the Belmont and gets the No. 5 post position.

Other Kentucky Derby horses scheduled to start the Belmont include General a Rod, Medal Count,  and Commanding Curve, who finished second to California Chrome in the Run for the Roses.

There's also a newcomer to the Triple Crown race field this weekend. Tonalist has been working towards the Belmont and will start on the outside from the No. 11 post position.

The Belmont Stakes is scheduled to start at 6:52 p.m. Eastern time Saturday evening. It will be televised by NBC.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Belmont Stakes 2014: Can California Chrome go the distance?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today