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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Excitement builds for Belmont Stakes
California Chrome bids for Triple Crown

In the 36 years since Affirmed swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes to become the 11th Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred horseracing history, a dozen horses have won the first two legs only to fall short at Belmont.

This Saturday evening, California Chrome will join one of the aforementioned groups after romping to victory in the Kentucky Derby, and holding off a late-running Ride On Curlin to capture the Preakness in front of a record crowd of 123,469.

“Pure and simple, he’s a rock star,” trainer Art Sherman said of California Chrome, who has won six straight races and enters the Belmont with eight victories in 12 career starts. “I knew we had to run harder this race,” the 77-year-old told NBC after the Preakness. “He’s a real racehorse and I’m hoping that the mile-and-a-half [Belmont] is up his alley, too... It’s a dream for any trainer to do this.”

If he crosses the wire first in the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, California Chrome, bred by owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin for a measly $10,500, will join Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (’77), Secretariat (’73), Citation (’48), Assault (’46), Count Fleet (’43), Whirlaway (’41), War Admiral (’37), Omaha (’35), Gallant Fox (’30), and Sir Barton (’19) in the history books.

Coburn and Martin named their stable Dumbass Partners because someone told them years ago that anyone who purchases a racehorse is just that. The purple silks worn by jockey Victor Espinoza display a green donkey on the back.

Espinoza, who bid to win the Triple Crown in 2002 aboard War Emblem (eighth in the Belmont) said after the Preakness: “It’s an awesome feeling to be able to have a horse like California Chrome.

“It was just a crazy race ... I got more tired mentally than physically riding him,” Espinoza added. “But it worked out well, and he’s just an amazing horse.”

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