June 6, 2014 |
IF HORSE RACING was not so different than other sports, I would be pleased to tell everybody there is no way California Chrome can lose tomorrow's Belmont Stakes. There are dozens of reasons why CC should win and become America's first Triple Crown winner since 1978 and 12th ever. He has won six consecutive races, including three consecutive Grade I stakes, the highest level of American racing. CC's opponents have just one Grade I win among them. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner's final Belmont workout last Saturday was absolutely dazzling.
June 6, 2014 |
LATE IN THE DAY on Sunday, Dec. 22 at Hollywood Park, California Chrome was a promising horse that was nonetheless 2-for-6 lifetime with earnings of just $104,850. The colt exploded that day to win the King Glorious Stakes by 6 1/4 lengths. Since that breakthrough, California Chrome is 6-for-6 with earnings of $3,347,800, a Belmont Stakes win away from being the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. CC is perfect with jockey Victor Espinoza. He is perfect with that nasal strip.
June 5, 2014
A WISE MAN told me years ago that it was not necessarily going to take a great horse to win the Triple Crown for the first time since 1978. He told me it would be won in a year when there was a solid, consistent colt running against a group that was neither solid nor consistent. This may be that year. As a charter member of the California Chrome fan club, I will say nothing to denigrate the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. I love this horse. Still, only time will tell us where the colt belongs in relation to the legendary horses.
June 5, 2014 |
Win or lose at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome will be racing with the weight of a TV network and a beleaguered horse-racing industry on his powerful shoulders. NBC expects to more than double the TV audience of a typical Belmont to 17 million viewers because of Chrome's story and his chance for the coveted Triple Crown - the last one was Affirmed in 1978. Over the last dozen years, four horses raced for the Triple Crown in the Belmont without winning: War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in 2003, Smarty Jones in 2004, and Big Brown in 2008.
June 5, 2014 |
COMING CLOSE may count when playing horseshoes on the front lawn, but not when chasing history in horse racing. Since Affirmed won it in 1978, 12 horses have come to the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the Triple Crown and all 12 have been denied. Four of those 12 - Sunday Slence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet and local hero Smarty Jones - finished a heart-wrenching second. Here is a look at the 12 terrific horses who needed just one more win to become legendary. 2012 - I'LL HAVE ANOTHER Trainer: Doug O'Neill Jockey: Mario Gutierrez Derby: Won by 1 1/2 lengths Preakness: Won by a nose Belmont: Did not start due to injury Did you know?
June 4, 2014 |
When reservations became scarce for the trains running between Philadelphia and New York on the day of the 2004 Belmont Stakes, that's when trainer John Servis realized this Smarty Jones thing was starting to finally get out of hand. "It was crazy. It wasn't like that the first two races. I don't think a lot of people were sold on my horse then. I didn't feel any pressure for either of those two races," Servis said. "But the Belmont was completely different, and more from our city than anywhere.
May 21, 2014 |
THE CALIFORNIA Chrome nasal strip "controversy" lasted 24 hours. The Belmont Park stewards announced yesterday morning that all horses running at New York Racing Association tracks (Belmont, Aqueduct, Saratoga) will be permitted to use nasal strips. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner has used the strip during his six-race winning streak. Trainer Art Sherman said on Sunday at Pimlico that co-owner Perry Martin would be so unhappy if the colt was not allowed to use the nasal strip in New York that he might not run CC in the June 7 Belmont Stakes and give up a shot at the Triple Crown.
May 19, 2014 |
BALTIMORE - The story got better for California Chrome on Saturday, and it was pretty good already. The chestnut colt that hasn't lost a race as a 3-year-old followed up his Kentucky Derby victory two weeks ago with an authoritative Preakness Stakes win to set up a potential Triple Crown scenario for the Belmont Stakes on June 7. Twelve other horses have been in this position since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, and all of them either...
April 28, 2014 |
A muscular and finely groomed chestnut stallion of ordinary stature - age 13, still rambunctious - was led down a stone-dust path from his barn to a breeding shed, where a mare named Love's Clever Trick awaited. The stallion knew his job. Nine minutes later, Love's Clever Trick was back in her trailer hitched to a truck, leaving Peach Bottom, Lancaster County. For Smarty Jones, it was just another Thursday afternoon's work. It has been 10 years since a horse stabled at Philadelphia Park set the horse racing world briefly ablaze, winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, coming within a tantalizing length of the Triple Crown, setting attendance marks at the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
September 20, 2013 |
MIKE E. SMITH turned 48 last month. When he is in town to ride the last four races at Parx on Saturday, the Hall of Fame jockey ought to get together with Bernard Hopkins and compare notes. If Hopkins isn't the best conditioned late-40s athlete in America, then Smith is. Like Hopkins, Smith seldom performs anymore. He waits for the big moments. And he wins. Smith began riding 30 years ago. If he wasn't an instant success, it did not take long. By 1993, he was winning 342 races in a single year.