Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will He or Won't He?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will He or Won't He?

Article excerpt

Byline: Chet Fussman

No horse has won the Triple Crown since the video game Space Invaders was launched, a drought that has lasted so long, there isn't a player on the Jaguars roster who was alive when Affirmed became the 11th Triple Crown winner in 1978.

California Chrome (right) has a chance to end the streak Saturday in the Belmont Stakes. He will have 10 challengers in the 1 1/2-mile race, the most grueling of the three Triple Crown tests.

Will he do it? Here are the three reasons why he will ... and why he won't.

WHY HE WILL

1. California Chrome has already beaten six of his 10 challengers in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness and did so convincingly. Commanding Curve (Derby runner-up) and Ride on Curlin (Preakness runner-up) never threatened to pass him at any stage.

From a speed figure standpoint, California Chrome is the fastest horse. Most in the field are several lengths slower and would require a significant regression from the favorite to pull the upset.

2. Though the Belmont is the longest of the Triple Crown races, it's usually won by a horse on or within a reasonable distance of the lead. That is California Chrome's calling card. He's tractable enough to be placed on or close to the lead and then pull away early in the stretch.

He came from just off the pace to roll by the leaders in the Derby and Preakness. Don't be surprised if he's on the lead all the way in the Belmont. It's a winning formula - the last four Triple Crown winners led the Belmont at every call.

3. Though 11 horses since Affirmed lost the Triple Crown in the Belmont, California Chrome has several intangibles in his favor. By all accounts, he is training exceptionally well at Belmont Park. Jockey Victory Espinoza has never lost on the horse and has an ideal No. 2 post position to deliver another trouble-free trip. …

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