Excitement builds for Belmont Stakes
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The most recent bid for the Triple Crown came two years ago when Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another never made it to the starting gate for the Belmont. A leg injury forced him to scratch from the race and retire. Big Brown came up short in 2008, finishing last as a prohibitive 1-4 favorite, and four years prior to that it was 1-5 heavy chalk Smarty Jones settling for second place behind Birdstone before a record crowd of 120,139.
“We think there’s a chance a new attendance record will be set, and we’re hoping to break some handle records,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s Senior Vice President of Racing Operations. “The combination of California Chrome going for the Triple crown with what we did with the rest of the card, with $8 million in purses and 10 stakes races in all, makes it New York’s championship day of racing.”
California Chrome is expected to face a large, competitive contingent of challengers led by Commanding Curve, second in the Kentucky Derby, and Ride On Curlin, runner-up in the Preakness. Also exiting the Derby and aiming for a start in the Belmont are Danza (third), Wicked Strong (fourth), Samraat (fifth), and Intense Holiday (12th.) Social Inclusion, third in the Preakness, is expected to join the Belmont Stakes field, as is Kid Cruz, eighth in the second leg of the Triple Crown. The provisional Belmont Stakes field also includes Tonalist and Commissioner, the respective top two finishers in the Grade 2 Peter Pan.
“It’s such a good story with this horse,” Panza said of California Chrome. “Everyone is looking forward to watching him attempt to make history.”
The 13-race card gets underway at 11:35 a.m. Grandstand admission is $10, while general clubhouse admission is $30.