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May 23, 2014

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI



               Two thirds of the Triple Crown are over and we have another shot at a Triple Crown, as California Chrome has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness stakes. He will now have a shot to win the Triple Crown which if he does will be the first Triple Crown since Affirmed completed the task in 1978. 

               In the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes on May 17th, 2014 at Pimlico Race Course there was a field of 10 horses that went postward with California Chrome going off as odds-on favorite. Riding a five race win streak into this race California Chrome and a dominating win in the Kentucky Derby he was sent off at 1-2. When the gates broke, Pablo Del Monte, breaking from post 9 was sent to the lead under jockey Jeffery Sanchez and he was able to clear to the rail before the first turn. Social Inclusion, who was sent off as the 5-1 second choice wasn’t used to try and get to the lead and was bounced around a few times into the first turn and settled in fifth early on. The only filly in the race, Ria Antonia, a horse who was coming off a 15 length drubbing in the Kentucky Oaks and hadn’t crossed the wire first since July of last year. She was put up by D’Q in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies but didn’t cross the wire first and has been losing to inferior horses and clearly didn’t belong in this race. She was sent by her jockey Calvin Borel to rush up and challenge the leader into the first turn while California Chrome settled into a beautiful spot in third. The early fractions of the race, 23:2, 46:4, 1:11 were not blazing splits but they weren’t overly slow either. As they moved down the backstretch, Pablo Del Monte held the lead over Ria Antonia with California Chrome starting to move up three wide and Social Inclusion was also moving closer. As they moved around the far turn, California Chrome took over the lead by was quickly challenged by Social Inclusion as the two leaders dropped out of it. Ride On Curlin was also starting to move at this time as he came wide around the far turn to reach contention into the lane. As they moved down the lane, California Chrome had put away Social Inclusion but had to face a challenge from Ride On Curlin who moved into second. California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza were still going strong to the wire and held Ride On Curlin Safe to score by a length and a half. Ride On Curlin was moved then six lengths clear of Social Inclusion who just held on for third by a head over General A Rod. General A Rod, who was fourth early on, got caught in between horses on the far turn and had to check losing valuable lengths. He was able to get outside in the lane and finished well to just miss the show spot. The final time of the race was 1:54:4, was the fastest time of the race since 2007 when Curlin won. California Chrome will be the favorite heading into the Belmont Stakes on June 7th when he takes a chance at immortality but he will definitely have his toughest test.

               There was some controversy after the Preakness about the nasal strip that California Chrome wears. New York, at least the NYRA doesn’t allow nasal strips, it was sort of a house rule. However, when the word got out there that one of the owners of California Chrome said they might not come if he couldn’t wear the strip, the NYRA quickly said all they had to do was make a request with the stewards, that was done and the problem was solved. He is going to wear his nasal strip and he will be taking his chance for the Triple Crown on June 7th. Despite his two solid wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, as well as his six race winning streak he is not going to scare away anyone. Some of the horses expected for the Belmont Stakes, are as follows: Commanding Curve (finished a solid second in the Derby), Wicked Strong (winner of the Wood Memorial and a good fourth in the Derby), Tonalist (an up and coming three year old and a dominating winner of the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont), as well as Commissoner, Social Inclusion, Ride on Curlin and a few others. The final field will start coming together over the next few weeks but there are going to by some very talented three year olds taking their shot at California Chrome in the Belmont. It should be a very exciting day of racing not only because of the Triple Crown but because of the other 9 stakes races that day for a total of 10 stakes races, 9 graded and six of them Grade I’s. See you out at Belmont on June 7th.


                




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