California Chrome's attempt at horse racing's Triple Crown is just one day away and while he is the heavy favorite to win the Belmont Stakes, some racing experts say they won't be backing him at the betting windows. NY1's Anthony Pascale filed the following report.
While some of us wouldn't mind shedding a few pounds, gaining a few is actually a good sign for a race horse. California Chrome's assistant trainer Alan Sherman says it's proof the Triple Crown contender is healthy and ready to run big in the Belmont Stakes.
"He's getting strong or stronger, he hasn't missed an oat," Sherman said.
Riding a six race winning streak, California Chrome has been installed as the 3-to-5 morning line favorite for the race. That means a $2 bet would net $3.20 if he crosses the finish line first.
Racing Analyst Andy Serling handicaps the races year-round in New York. He says his money won't be on California Chrome.
"Horses going for the Triple Crown are notoriously terrible bets," said Serling. "I think there's real competition in here number one, while he's proven he's the best horse in this group, being the best horse at a mile and 3/16ths in the Preakness, a mile and a quarter in the Derby and a mile and a half in the Belmont are very different, this is a very demanding race."
And then there's the question of how the race will unfold. Dave Grening writes for the Daily Racing Form. He says the Derby and Preakness winner will have a target on his back, meaning other jockeys may try to test him early.
"I'm going to say that there's gonna be enough shots taken at him that soften him up just enough that someone comes off the pace to beat him and my pick would be Wicked Strong," Grening said.
Still, many believe California Chrome will overcome what he needs to, including Racing Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. He denied Real Quiet the Triple Crown while aboard Victory Gallop in the 1998 Belmont.
"He's definitely the best horse to come out of California in a long, long time and you know, barring any unforeseen bad luck or anything, I can't see him getting beat," Stevens said.
When asked who he fears most, Sherman says he is scared of Ride on Curlin, who came in second to California Chrome in the Preakness. He says he also fears Tonalist, one of five horses in the race that California Chrome has never raced against before.
A big crowd is expected Saturday at the track in Elmont, N.Y. where all available seats have been reserved.
General admission will be $10.