The 146th Belmont Stakes is only two days away, and California Chrome remains the odds-on favorite to win his seventh straight race and complete the first Triple Crown run in 36 years.
After the post positions were announced Wednesday, California Chrome was slotted at No. 2 and his odds slipped down from even to 3/5, further cementing his stranglehold on this year’s field.
His closest competitors among the deep and proven field are No. 9 Wicked Strong at 6/1, No. 11 Tonalist at 8/1, No. 5 Ride On Curlin at 12/1 and No. 4 Commanding Curve at 15/1. But several long shots are peppered along the starting gate and primed to derail California Chrome’s historic run.
Several contenders have been slapped as 20/1 or as low as 30/1 underdogs, but it’s unlikely California Chrome’s connections will take them lightly as many Triple Crown hopefuls have crumbled at the Belmont’s 1 1/ 2-mile track before.
No. 1 Medal Count (20/1) and No. 3 Matterhorn (30/1) will flank California Chrome on Saturday. A disappointing eighth place showing at the Kentucky Derby made people forget Medal Count’s second place run at the Blue Grass Stakes and victory at the Grade III Transylvania, but consider he also ran those three races less than 30 days apart.
Jockey Robby Albarado will also be aboard Medal Count. The 42-year-old has won more than 4,500 races during his career, and rode two-time Horse of the Year and all-time earning thoroughbred Curlin to victory at the 2007 Preakness.
While California Chrome is best known for his cheap breeding price of $10,000, Matterhorn has been sold twice in the last two years for a grand total of $735,000 before he landed with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners following his fourth place finish at the Grade II Peter Pan in May. Trained by the renowned Todd Pletcher, Matterhorn’s never run in a race shorter than a mile and he’s come up with solid times in each of his four career races which indicate he could creep up down the final stretch.
Despite 30/1 odds, No. 6 Matuszak’s chances for an upset lay within his lineage. His sire Bernardini ripped off five consecutive stakes victories back in 2006, including the Preakness, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup. Matuszak also counts 1982 Belmont-winner Conquistador Cielo as part of his lineage by way of grandsire Mr. Prospector.
Posts and Latest Odds via Belmont
No. 1 Medal Count 20/1
No. 2 California Chrome 3/5
No. 3 Matterhorn 30/1
No. 4 Commanding Curve 15/1
No. 5 Ride On Curlin 12/1
No. 6 Matuszak 30/1
No. 7 Samraat 20/1
No. 8 Commissioner 20/1
No. 9 Wicked Strong 6/1
No. 10 General A Rod 20/1
No. 11 Tonalist 8/1