Breaking News: California Chrome is out and Fat Guy is in!
Just kidding! But, let’s take a step back in time . The year is 1973, a three year old stallion named Secretariat is poised to become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. After impressive victories at both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the stage was set for Secretariat to snap a 25 year draught. On that fateful day in June of 1973, the enthusiasm was palpable at the 105th running of the Belmont Stakes, and Secretariat did not disappoint. The powerful stallion dominated the field setting records for the fastest mile ever on dirt, as well as the largest margin of victory in history. We did not have to wait long for the next Triple Crown winner, as Affirmed performed the feat just 5 years later in 1978. However, that would be the last horse to accomplish this daunting task. Fast forward 36 years, and we stand on the precipices of another historical moment. During a 1986 radio talk show, two-time Triple Crown winning jockey Eddie Arcaro made a bold prediction, stating we would never see another Triple Crown winner in our lifetimes. California Chrome is just days away from attempting to prove him wrong. So why such a grim outlook from Mr. Arcaro? Critics will tell you that the increased emphasis on breeding for speed over stamina in order to secure higher auction prices is one reason, while others will tell you that the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs in the sport for decades has actually tainted an endurance gene, which has been mutated and passed on to the horses of today. However, the most glaring reason can be discovered in the race itself. The Belmont Stakes boasts an intimidating 1.5 mile distance, about ½ mile longer than both the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness Stakes. It takes a special breed of horse to adapt its running style in order to be successful at Belmont, and on Saturday, California Chrome will get the chance to prove his mettle, and capture a very elusive goal. Perhaps the only thing more fascinating than the build-up to this historic event, is the fact that California Chrome defied the odds to even be here. Bred from two horses worth a combined 10,500 dollars, California Chrome is the most unlikely favorite in horse racing history. That did not stop him from conquering the field at both The Kentucky Derby and The Preakness Stakes. He will attempt to defy the odds again in just a few short days. So will this long shot prove all his critics wrong and enter into rarified air as only the 12th horse to win a Triple Crown, or will the prophecy foretold by the fabled Mr. Arcaro stand firm when this glorious colt stumbles leaving us all feeling empty and unsatisfied. One thing is for certain, this kind of drama does not come along every day, and an event of this magnitude cannot be missed.