News Column

California Chrome Draws No. 2 Position for Belmont

June 4, 2014

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

California Chrome's jockey, Victor Espinoza (Jay Baker, Creative Commons)
California Chrome's jockey, Victor Espinoza (Jay Baker, Creative Commons)

June 04--California Chrome's run for history will begin from the No. 2 post at Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

The chestnut colt with a chance of becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 was drawn into that position Wednesday.

He was then installed as the 3-5 favorite on the morning line.

After the draw, co-owner Steve Coburn expressed confidence that jockey Victor Espinoza can navigate from the second-closest position from the rail.

"This is a jockey's race," Coburn said. "We know Chrome can do it. He can go the distance. So it's going to be up to Victor to put him in position to where he can win this race. ... No. 2 -- it's just another post position. We all get drawn a bad place sooner or later. You just have to make the best of it."

Wicked Strong is the second-favorite in the 11-horse field at 6-1 and will start from post No. 9. He finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and didn't run in the Preakness.

Tonalist -- which didn't race in either the Derby or Preakness -- is the third choice on the morning line at 8-1 and will start from the 11th post.

Ride On Curlin, who finished second in the Preakness, was given 12-1 odds after drawing the fifth post. That position elicited a whoop from trainer Billy Gowan.

"I'm tired of being out on the outside," Gowan said. "It's a good post position, right in the middle."

California Chrome -- trained by Art Sherman and owned by Coburn and Perry Martin -- is the 13th horse since Affirmed to win both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The most recent, I'll Have Another in 2012, scratched before the Belmont.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who will saddle Commissioner and Matterhorn in Saturday's race, said the distance of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont -- the longest of the Triple Crown races -- could make the difference.

"The key to the race and the key to beating him is just having a horse who will stay a little longer than he will," Pletcher said. "At this point, the way he ran the Preakness and the Derby, I wouldn't necessarily project that he can't get the mile and a half. It remains to be seen."

2014 Belmont Stakes post positions (and odds)

1. Medal Count (20-1)

2. California Chrome (3-5)

3. Matterhorn (30-1)

4. Commanding Curve (15-1)

5. Ride On Curlin (12-1)

6. Matuszak (30-1)

7. Samraat (20-1)

8. Commissioner (20-1)

9. Wicked Strong (6-1)

10. General a Rod (20-1)

11. Tonalist (8-1)

___

(c)2014 The Baltimore Sun

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

Original headline: California Chrome draws No. 2 post position for Belmont Stakes


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