Thirty-six years have passed since horse racing has celebrated a Triple Crown winner.
California Chrome, co-owned by Topaz Lake residents Carolyn and Steve Coburn, is going to the post Saturday at the 146th Belmont Stakes as a favorite to become the 12th horse to accomplish the feat and the first since Affirmed in 1978.
Following impressive victories at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Belmont Park oddsmaker Eric Donovan established California Chrome as the 3-5 favorite on Wednesday. California Chrome is riding a six-race win streak dating back to December.
California Chrome will start from the No. 2 post for the mile-and-a-half race. The Belmont is the longest of the Triple Crown races.
“We just hope and pray everybody gets a clean break, every horse has a safe trip and everybody comes home clean,” Steve Coburn said last week during a media and autograph signing session at Sharkey’s. “Let the chips fall where they may.”
Joe Asher, CEO for William Hill Race and Sports Book, and Sharkey’s owner Hal Holder also presented Coburn with a $1,000 wager on California Chrome to win the Triple Crown — a wager that stands to benefit the American Cancer Society.
Wicked Strong is expected to be one of the top challengers in the 11-horse field. Wicked Strong won the Wood Memorial this spring and finished fourth at the Kentucky Derby (but did not run the Preakness).
Commanding Curve, second in the Kentucky Derby, and Ride on Curlin, second at the Preakness, are also included in the field.
Tonalist comes in with 8-1 odds and won the Peter Pan Stakes on May 10 at Belmont Park.
Notes: There was a local highlight at Belmont Park on Thursday when Doctor Dempsey, co-owned by Mike Pegram (principal owner of the Carson Valley Inn) won a six-furlong race. An omen of good things to come? Doctor Dempsey was ridden by Victor Espinoza, who is California Chrome’s jockey. ... Another of Pegram horses, Shakin It Up, is entered in the Metropolitan Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park. ... Thirty horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, however, 19 failed to win at the Belmont. One of those was Real Quiet, owned by Pegram, who in 1998 lost the Belmont and the Triple Crown by a nose.