Post positions for Saturday’s 146th Belmont Stakes (G1) were drawn today, and Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner California Chrome drew post position No. 2.
Looking to become the first Triple Crown winner since Florida-bred Affirmed in 1978, California Chrome is unbeaten this year, and his connections report that the 3-5 morning line favorite for the Belmont Stakes appears to be heading into Saturday’s date with destiny in good shape.
Trainer Art Sherman arrived in New York the day before the draw and liked what he saw from his charge on the track.
“I thought he looked better now than he did after the Preakness,” Sherman said. “I couldn’t believe how much weight he put on. He really looks good right now. Going on the Triple Crown trail, it’s kind of rough. He’s an amazing horse.”
Sherman returned to Los Alamitos Race Course near Los Angeles following the May 17 Preakness, leaving California Chrome with his son and assistant, Alan. The California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit will be the heavy favorite to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed.
“I don’t think he has to win the Triple Crown to be a hero,” Sherman said. “He’s on a six-race winning streak. He’ll always be my hero. Just to win the Derby and Preakness is good enough for me. If he gets the Belmont, that’s the hat trick. Believe me, I’ll be really satisfied then. I’m the kind of guy that I take one race at a time. I hope we have a good trip and everybody comes away healthy. That’s my main concern.”
Among those attempting to derail California Chrome’s Triple Crown is Wood Memorial (G1) winner Wicked Strong who drew post position No. 9 and is listed at odds of 6-1 on the morning line.
A closing fourth in the Kentucky Derby following his Wood victory despite a troubled trip, Wicked Strong is gathering momentum as one of the primary roadblocks to California Chrome’s quest to win the Triple Crown.
“I can see why,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. “He had a pretty good excuse in the Derby. His Wood was great, and he’s trained really well since then. He really is training great. But, you never know until you lead them over there.”
The Belmont Stakes field in post-position order is as follows: 1. Medal Count (6-1); 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).