There will be a Triple Crown try in 2014.
California Chrome won the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes just two weeks after winning the Kentucky Derby to ensure a chance to make history. Thanks to those wins, California Chrome can become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win horse racing's elusive Triple Crown with a triumph at the Belmont Stakes in June.
After a dominant showing at Churchill Downs, Chrome was the 3-5 morning line favorite at Pimlico in Baltimore on Saturday. With jockey Victor Espinoza again in the saddle, California Chrome lived up to his billing by deftly navigating the 10-horse field over the 1 3-16th mile course in 1:54.84 before a record crowd of 123,469 fans.
"It's an awesome feeling to be able to have a horse like California Chrome," Espinoza told NBC's on-horse reporter Donna Brothers on the track. "Today it was just a crazy. I was telling him, I got more tired mentally than physically."
Starting from the third gate, California Chrome moved into position behind early leaders Pablo Del Monte and Ria Antonia. As the horses came to the top of the stretch, Chrome and Social Inclusion surged to the front. The Derby winner proved too powerful for the speedy new shooter but there was one more challenge left as Ride On Curlin made a late bid for the black-eyed susans. For the sixth straight time since Espinoza climbed aboard the chestnut colt in December, California Chrome earned the win.
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California Chrome paid $3.00 to win, $3.00 to place and $2.40 to show on a $2.00 bet. In second place, Ride On Curlin paid bettors $5.60 and $3.80 on a $2.00 wager. Social Inclusion finished in third place and paid $3.40. A $2.00 exacta bet paid $18.20, according to NBC.
The California-bred three-year-old horse is the product of an $8,000 mare and a $2,500 stallion and is the only horse owned by Steve Coburn and Perry Martin.
"I don't mean to be bold or cocky or arrogant," Coburn told reporters after the Preakness, via The Associated Press. "I saw this baby when he was a day old, I told my wife, 'Carolyn, this horse is going to do something big. I don't know what it is, but we're going to stay in the game to make sure this colt gets to be the best that he can be.'"
Chrome will attempt to become just the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown when he leaves the gate at the start of the Belmont Stakes on June 7 in New York. Since Affirmed last accomplished the feat, a dozen horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but failed to win at the Belmont.