Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

California Chrome draws No. 2 post position for Belmont Stakes

Exercise rider Willie Delgado gallops Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome at Belmont Park on Wednesday.

Associated Press

Exercise rider Willie Delgado gallops Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome at Belmont Park on Wednesday.

ELMONT, N.Y.— The tension is palpable as post positions are drawn for the Kentucky Derby. Trainers entertain nightmare visions of their wonderfully quick animals becoming trapped behind a wall of 19 other horses.

For the Belmont Stakes? Horsemen spoke as if Wednesday's draw barely mattered. With its 11/2-mile length, wide turns and smaller fields, the race presents a different set of problems.

Which might be a good thing for California Chrome, who'll start from the No. 2 post as he tries to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. The Derby and Preakness champ is a 3-5 morning-line favorite.

Though some of his connections acknowledged the position is less than ideal, they shrugged it off, saying the race will turn instead on Victor Espinoza's tactical decisions. "This is a jockey's race," co-owner Steve 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."

Assistant trainer Alan Sherman reached into the past, noting Secretariat clinched the Triple Crown from an inside post, and 11 Belmont winners have come out of the No. 2 spot in the starting gate, the last being Tabasco Cat in 1994.

The 6-1 popular upset pick is Wicked Strong, who was fourth in the Derby and scored the biggest win of his career in the Wood Memorial at New York's Aqueduct Racetrack. He's fresher than California Chrome, has run best in New York but drew post No. 9. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens is a second-generation New York trainer and knows Belmont well: "You got the big, sweeping turns and the big, long run down the backstretch to see if you should go up a little or take it easy a little. I'd have to think of all the (Triple Crown) races, this is the one where post position means the least."

Ride On Curlin and General a Rod are the only horses who join California Chrome for all three legs. Ride On Curlin will do it under his third rider, John Velazquez. His Preakness jockey, Joel Rosario, will ride Tonalist. Though he will start outside, he won the May 10 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont, historically an indicator of good performance in the Belmont Stakes.

One old challenger who seems almost forgotten is Commanding Curve, second in the Derby with a late charge. "We're hoping a little extra distance will be to our benefit," trainer Dallas Stewart said.

The lineup

The field for Saturday's 146th Belmont Stakes, with post position, horse's name, jockey's name and odds:

HorseJockeyOdds
1. Medal CountRobby Albarado20-1
2. California ChromeVictor Espinoza3-5
3. MatterhornJoe Bravo30-1
4. Commanding CurveShaun Bridgmohan15-1
5. Ride On CurlinJohn Velazquez12-1
6. MatuszakMike Smith30-1
7. SamraatJose Ortiz20-1
8. CommissionerJavier Castellano20-1
9. Wicked StrongRajiv Maragh6-1
10. General a RodRosie Napravnik20-1
11. TonalistJoel Rosario8-1

Trainers (by post position): 1, Dale Romans. 2, Art Sherman. 3, Todd Pletcher. 4, Dallas Stewart. 5, Billy Gowan. 6, Bill Mott. 7, Rick Violette Jr. 8, Todd Pletcher. 9, James Jerkens. 10, Mike Maker. 11, Christophe Clement.

Owners (by post position): 1, Spendthrift Farm. 2, Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin. 3, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Town and Country Farms. 4, West Point Thoroughbreds. 5, Daniel J. Dougherty. 6, George J. Prussin. 7, My Meadowview Farm. 8, WinStar Farm. 9, Centennial Farms. 10, Starlight Racing & Skychai Racing, LLC. 11, Robert S. Evans.

Weights: 126 pounds. Distance: 1½ miles. Purse: $1.5 million. First place: $800,000. Second place: $280,000. Third place: $150,000. Fourth place: $100,000. Fifth place: $60,000. Post time: 6:52 p.m.

A big problem

California Chrome will have 10 rivals Saturday. No horse has won the Triple Crown facing more than seven Belmont challengers:

Horse Year No.

Sir Barton 1919 2

Gallant Fox 1930 3

Omaha 1935 4

War Admiral 1937 6

Whirlaway 1941 3

Count Fleet 1943 2

Assault 1946 6

Citation 1948 7

Secretariat 1973 4

Seattle Slew 1977 7

Affirmed 1978 4

California Chrome draws No. 2 post position for Belmont Stakes 06/04/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 10:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.