Triple Crown threat California Chrome is the clear-cut favorite ahead of June 7’s Belmont Stakes in New York, but he’s facing a 11-thoroughbred field loaded with some of the best stakes contenders from the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Trained by 77-year-old Art Sherman, and continuing the fairytale of a horse bred for next to nothing rising to the cream of racing’s crop, California Chrome’s odds have remained steady at 1/1 and the odds of him completing the first Triple Crown title since Affirmed in 1978 are also even, according to Bovada.lv.
Yet his competitors will hope to end California Chrome’s six-race winning streak, starting with Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin at 11/2, new-comer to the stakes Tonalist at 6/1 and surprise Derby runner-up Commanding Curve at 7/1.
In six starts this year, Ride On Curlin has earned his connections more than $623,000 in winnings thanks to his excellent showing at Pimlico and second-place run at the Arkansas Derby in April. Furthermore he counts Curlin, the highest earning thoroughbred in history, as his sire.
Representing Woodslane Farm in Kentucky, Tonalist’s appeal may lay more in his fresher legs compared to the majority of the field. He’s made only four starts this year, winning two including the Grade II Peter Pan on May 10, and Tonalist could have more left in his legs down the final stretch of Belmont’s 1 1/2-mile oval.
Commanding Curve, owned by New Orleans-based Dallas Stewart who’s had three horses show in Triple Crown races but never claimed victory, has also showed a late kick that could foil California Chrome. Though he hasn’t won a race since November, Commanding Curve overpowered the final pack to sneak into second at Churchill Downs and having sat out Preakness he too could have fresher legs come post time.
A possible longshot at 33/1 is Commissioner, one of the three legendary trainer Todd Pletcher has taken into this year’s stakes run. Four of his seven starts were graded races, but his sixth place finish in Grade I Arkansas might be Commissioner’s biggest drawback, especially at the longer track at Belmont.
When post positions are announced next week, there will be a much better idea of who can spoil California Chrome’s fun, and odds will assuredly shift.
California Chrome 1/1
Ride On Curlin 11/2
Commanding Curve 7/1
Wicked Strong 9/1
Medal Count 16/1
Social Inclusion 33/1
Kid Cruz 40/1