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 the 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 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, U.S. CEO for William Hill, 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 charity.
“When California Chrome wins the Triple Crown, that money is going to be donated to the American Cancer Society,” Coburn said.
Coburn pointed out California Chrome shares the same Feb. 18 date of birth as his late sister, Brenda, who died from cancer at age 36.
California Chrome is riding a six-race win streak that began with a 6-1/4-length triumph at the King Glorious Stakes on Dec. 22, 2013. He also had big wins March 8 at the San Felipe Stakes, by 7-1/4 lengths, and on April 11 at the Santa Anita Derby, by 5-1/4 lengths.
Thirty horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, however, 19 failed to win at the Belmont.
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.