You know about California Chrome by now. He won the Kentucky Derby on cruise control, and he won the Preakness Stakes going away as a 1-2 favorite at post time. Now he's the 3-5 favorite to win the Belmont Stakes and become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978.
California Chrome was the first California-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby since 1962, and as such, one of the knocks on him before this Triple Crown run was that he had raced only against relatively soft competition in the Golden State. The Kentucky Derby was his first race outside California, and if nothing else, he's vindicated himself at Churchill Downs and then again at Pimlico, site of the Preakness, that he can run, and run away, against the best.
Belmont Stakes 2014
Belmont Stakes 2014
Wicked Strong is the second choice at 6-1, and he ran a strong Kentucky Derby before opting not to run in the Preakness Stakes. Wicked Strong was fourth at Churchill Downs after a late surge, and in April, he won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. The runner-up in that race was Samraat, which is racing in the Belmont Stakes at 20-1 odds. Wicked Strong's owners have been eyeing the Belmont all along since the horse is more suited for longer distances, according to John Powers of the Boston Globe.
Wicked Strong was stuck in traffic early at Churchill Downs, which is bound to happen trying to cut in from the outside in a 19-horse race. The Belmont Stakes is known to give horses room to run, so that shouldn't be a problem.
The third choice is Tonalist, a horse new to the Triple Crown series. Tonalist is the third choice at 8-1, and he's the lowest-odds horse new to the Triple Crown series, a fact somewhat significant because four of the last seven Belmont Stakes winners were Triple Crown newcomers.
Both of the runners-up to California Chrome in the first two legs of the Triple Crown will be on the track at Belmont. Commanding Curve, at 15-1 odds, was the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby after a late surge. Ride On Curlin ran in the Kentucky Derby before finishing runner-up at the Preakness, 1 1/2 lengths behind California Chrome.
General a Rod, at 20-1 odds, is the only horse in the field other than California Chrome and Ride On Curlin to have run in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. He finished 11th in the Derby and fourth in the Preakness.