The Scenario Unfolds

OK, from a physical aspect, that’s not going to help you much in your handicapping, because it’s hard to find fault in any of the Belmont starters stabled at Belmont Park. So, now we turn to post positions, which could prove virtually meaningless going a mile and a half, although post 11 is not the ideal spot for Tonalist, who will have to break sharply and either get lucky and tuck in somewhere to save ground or take it to them from the get-go and try to clear the field. With a lack of a pure pace horse, that might not be that difficult, although General a Rod, just inside him in post 10, could have the same idea, which could set up an aggressive run into the turn for both horses.

As for California Chrome, post 2 could be good or bad depending on the early scenario. With a relatively slow pace expected and a closely bunched field, and his two pace threats – General a Rod and Tonalist -- drawing the two outside posts and likely gunning, Chrome could be susceptible to gang warfare and being put in a box by General a Rod, Tonalist, and Samraat. But Victor Espinoza may decided to take it to them early and cut that first corner while staying right up there with the leaders.

Medal Count, on the rail, likely will take back and save ground and wait for a hole to open. Commanding Curve, in post 4, also should save ground. Horses can go wide at the top of the stretch at Belmont as long as they save ground going into the far turn. Go wide into the far turn and you’re in danger of getting hung out to dry on that big sweeping turn of no return.

Ride On Curlin breaks from post 5, and his connections are just thrilled he didn’t draw the outside, as he did in the Derby (post 18) Preakness (post 10). The same goes for Wicked Strong, who is a bit out there in post 9, but a far cry from post 19 in the Kentucky Derby. Both colts can take back and make one run or settle somewhere in midpack.

Let’s just hope for a clean break and a clean trip for everyone. Now, a look at some of the Belmont horses from Tuesday and Wednesday.


The sun seems to explode off California Chrome each morning.

Chrome and Willie Delgado have become quite a pair.

West Point's Terry Finley with Commanding Curve.

As long as Commanding Curve is biting on something he's happy.

Try and find a time when Ride On Curlin does not have his tongue out.

See what I mean?


The look of love. Wicked Strong can do that to you.

The photographers line up for the 6 a.m. Chrome shoot.

Art Sherman and Steve Coburn watch Chrome gallop.

California Chrome

California Chrome

California Chrome


Leave a Comment:


Thanks for the great pictures, Steve...and a good article... I am pulling for California trip for all!

04 Jun 2014 4:06 PM

Chrome has so far demonstrated that he is very well trained and can kick out or slow down..whatever Victor needs. I think that the race will be one of strategy by the jockeys and is more Victor's to win or lose rather than Chrome's. Just hope no one runs any of the colts including Chrome to win or defeat Chrome.

04 Jun 2014 4:22 PM

3 positives for Chrome

1) Post Position

2) Great "mind"!

3) Consistent "Rocking Motion" mover. Less energy used per stride!


1)Likely to have a little "company" in the stretch. May have to do some elongated "battling" to pull it off.

My probable bet:

   Gonna save some cash here, as it will be hard to turn real profit.

$2 EX.BOX 2-1; $2 EX.BOX. 2-7. If I lose 8 bucks,I lose 8 bucks. If I win, I win "quite a bit"!

04 Jun 2014 4:57 PM
Karen in Indiana

I've been watching this horse to see what's different about him, because there is something. And I think it's that he feels secure and safe, he trusts those around him. He's a homebred with owners who are involved with him and give him attention. He's had the same people caring for him in training and they do care for him. Not having gone through the sales ring is a plus. It's nice to see.

04 Jun 2014 5:22 PM

I'm sure all the horses get love from their handlers but I have never seen a horse get as much affection as Chrome does.  Willie is always hugging and patting him.  I saw Chrome rub his forehead against Willie's shoulder going into the barn.  It is so sweet!  This horse knows he is loved.  How could he not?

04 Jun 2014 6:16 PM

Ride On Curlin and a couple of the others seeking to trip up California Chrome's place in history look beefed up (unnaturally?), whereas California Chrome looks streamlined and evenly muscled, simply balanced and happy.  Since I love horses I'm for all of them. But in my opinion the flashy chestnut from the Land of Milk and Honey will be our next Triple Crown winner.

04 Jun 2014 6:28 PM

It occurred to me, while reading numerous posts on pedigree, genetics and training, that this horse was trained by an "old school" trainer and by that I mean some one who was around when they were training horses for stamina and distance because there were a great many more long races and California was a place that had many mile and one half and two mile races. California Chrome, has, from the first spark and glimmer of talent, been TRAINED to win the TRIPLE CROWN, not just the Derby or Preakness, by a trainer that knows exactly how to do that. This race, the Belmont is what he has trained to do for well over a year. The only other horse in this field that might, and I repeat, might, have stayed sound,calm and trained for this is the other CC. I see a CC1, CC2, and  ROC finish, with ARod a 4th or 5th and Wicked Strong right with him. As good as Pletcher is at Belmont, he just doesn't have a horse in this that can hit the wire before these seasoned guys (by seasoned, I mean the crowds and NOISE).Best of luck to everyone,  please respect the horse you are riding, and don't forget that for the rest of you, it is just a race with a nice fat purse, for California Chrome, it just might be history.

04 Jun 2014 7:10 PM

California Chrome, Tonalist, and Samraat could all go to fast early and set this race up for Commanding Curve, Ride on Curlin, Wicked Strong and heaven forbid, Commissioner. Or Tonalist and California Chrome could just run away from everyone else. This is a tough call.

04 Jun 2014 8:01 PM

Let's see if I can "nail" the attendance at Belmont on Saturday..........141,118! I wish I was #141,119, but I'll be at Arlington!

04 Jun 2014 8:14 PM
Judy G ~ CA

I have to tell you, Steve, my heart may not hold up by race day LOL  I haven't felt this nervous since Queen Zenyatta brought on heart attacks :-)

All we can pray for at this point - as you pointed out - a good clean break for all, and calm nerves! I hope to witness a Triple Crown win, especially for Team CC

I will be at Santa Anita. I'm sure those old rafters will be shaking like they did back in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic with Zen!

04 Jun 2014 8:15 PM

I dont think that post positions matter very much going 12 furlongs. I can envision Califonia Chrome under a confident Victor Espinoza, wiring this field. If he falters somehow, it will be Wicked Strong guided by Rajiv Maragh for trainer Jimmy Jerkens that will be the heartbreaker.

04 Jun 2014 8:45 PM
Uncle Smiley

Thanks, Steve, for the glowing gold pictures.  Wendy.lou, your wisdom is, well, exactly that.

Steve...Why NOT A Filly Triple Crown, should be hosted at Delaware Park.  It is the premier distaff track on the East Coast.

The Delaware Handicap at ten furlongs logically would be the start.

Uncle Smiley

04 Jun 2014 8:46 PM

Steve ~ the scenes of your "Scenario" should not be missed by anyone.  How beautiful and even enchanting to see the "sun burst" upon California Chrome ~ very much like a new "copper penny" that you find, gleaming and you reach for it and shout "I found a penny" and  believe it's Good Luck....

and how "lucky" we are to be able to share the fractions of a moment that will be recorded in our hearts and minds by this gleaming colt in Saturdays' "scenario" of success for Chrome.....

   Good Start ~ Good Trip ~ Good Luck to all!

04 Jun 2014 8:57 PM
Proud Acres

California and all of horse racing need this triple crown. I hope the racing gods see that as we'll. I'm a true blue Chromie! Run junior run.  May all of the horses come home safe,

04 Jun 2014 9:08 PM

Thank you for these wonderful photos of the contenders in the Belmont Stakes.  Beautiful photos.  Wish I could be there in person, but not to be this time.  I'm a Chromie through and through, but as always hoping for safe trips to all horses and riders.  What a spectacular day of racing this Saturday.  So many greats, Goldencents, Palice Malice, Revolutionary, Beholder, Princess of Sylmar, on and on.  A horse lovers dream come true. I know we can count on you for exciting journalism.  

04 Jun 2014 9:18 PM

One of my best friends, a young 76, decided to get married on of all days, Jun 7.  I'll be in church when Chrome makes his bid for the crown.  I'm trying to figure out how soon I can graciously leave the reception and get home to watch the DVR!

My feeling is that post position doesn't matter.  I think the 10 & 11 horses may have to go and if they cross over and battle for the lead, Chrome will have his target.  If they don't, then I think Chrome's natural speed will have him on the lead, particularly since the only other speed is to the far outside.  Then it's a matter of Victor accurately judging the pace, and moving at the right time to separate from the pack.  If Chrome has distance limitations, it hasn't shown yet, and I just don't see anyone catching him if he runs the Belmont as he has every other race this year.

04 Jun 2014 9:42 PM

Judy G, I hear you!  I have been saying the past 2 weeks here I feel like I am going to jump out of my own skin I am so excited.  Can't wait to make the short drive from New Jersey on Saturday to Belmont Park.

Steve your analysis of the possible race scenarios is great.  Art says it's a jockey's decision race so let's hope Victor positions Chrome early and watches to not get boxed out of running room.  Agree Steve can't go too wide on the far turn or as I like to say you'll end up way out in Yankee Stadium and Derek Jeter will have to ride you back!  That's an exaggeration of how wide it is but nonetheless, it's wide!  Agree on what you said earlier Steve that Chrome's running style as a stalker who can rate off the pace with that tactical speed sets him up perfectly for the Belmont.  Victor's gotta watch that the 9, 10, 11 posts don't come in diagonally and block him in.  Alex was in 9 in his Belmont and Jeremy cut him diagonally into the race if I remember correctly.

The photos are great Steve, they are all so beautiful.

I said it before the Derby, and before the Preakness, and I'll say it now before the Belmont, Saturday night let's get the party rockin' at Los Alamitos!!!!!

Go Chrome!  All horses come home safe.

04 Jun 2014 10:00 PM

Here's a new twist on the song "California Here I Come."

California's name is Chrome

Yep, that's where he started from.

The Derby, The Preakness, he shines in the sun,

A champion, a rock star, he's all of that and more when he runs...........

Hurry to Belmont, don't be late

Open up that starting gate

Yep, the Triple Crown's his fate,

California's name is Chrome.

04 Jun 2014 11:14 PM

There are at least two possible pace structure. If the pace structure is the same as it was in the Derby where the early speed took a breather after a brisk half mile then the pace favors California Chrome. If, on the other hand it resembles that of the Preakness which was unrelenting and without a letup, the race will be decided deep into the stretch.

04 Jun 2014 11:43 PM

For those expecting a fast pace, don't hold your breath. There is a reason why this race has finished in 2:30 and change the past several years on avg. Pace...

05 Jun 2014 12:17 AM
Lise from Maine


Gorgeous photos.

Thanks for sharing them.

Still haven't decided who I will bet on. Probably will decide at the window.

Good luck to California Chrome and his connections!

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

05 Jun 2014 12:24 AM
The Deacon

I would be fibbing if I said I wasn't nervous or worried. I haven't felt this way since 1969 when Majestic Prince lost the Triple Crown, a race he should never have raced in.

Pretty much everything has been said whether you feel Chrome will win or lose.

I think if he is to get beat it will be by Ride on Curlin or Wicked Strong. Tonalist has only raced 4 times and that is worrisome.

The last time a 1/2 shot won the Preakness was Affirmed in 1978. Chrome was 1/2 in the Preakness. Not that it matters but its something to feel a little positive about.

Lets see there has been 139 years of Triple Crown races and only 11 winners. That's about a 7.9% success rate.

In the last 36 years there has been 12 horses since Affirmed that has won the 1st two legs and failed. So 33% came relatively close with Real Quiet almost doing it. Afleet Alex and Point Given won the last 2 legs and probably both should have won the Triple Crown.

Two of the all time greats Spectacular Bid and Damascus should both be Triple Crown winners.

Obviously history isn't on Chrome's side but this is horse racing and crazy things happen.

I only hope for a clean break and the safety of all the animals.

Go Chrome......

1. California Chrome

2. Ride on Curlin

3. Wicked Strong or Tonalist

05 Jun 2014 3:50 AM
Pedigree Ann

Karen, I agree with you. Chrome is all muscle, no fat on him. Some of the bulkier types look a bit soft next to him. Compare Chrome's shoulder, with strongly defined muscles, and Wicked Strong's, with hardly any definition at all.

05 Jun 2014 3:54 AM
Pedigree Ann

Oops, I meant Wendy. But I also agree with Karen that Chrome's trust in his people is a major plus in his racing career. All but one Triple Crown winner (Seattle Slew - I don't count Sir Barton, since the races were not linked in any way in 1919) raced for their breeders. Homebred is the way to go if you want to win the Triple Crown.

05 Jun 2014 4:00 AM

Those photos always add a little something to what are already great blogs. The race scenario Steve is suggesting makes a lot of sense to me as well. I look for ROC and Curve to make the late charge but CC should prevail.

05 Jun 2014 6:22 AM

Will Social Inclusion's not being entered help or hinder the chances of California Chrome?  

05 Jun 2014 8:32 AM

my uncle flew a Nearctic son up to Maryland for a 2 year old stakes where he was the overwhelming favorite. He was boxed in by 4 horses and stayed there to the finish. It's all part of the game that's why there is a dog fight for the best jockeys with the most experience and you always make a large bet for the jockey to help your odds.

05 Jun 2014 10:45 AM

Great photos Steve, thanks for sharing them. I see Victor has a mount in the Brooklyn at 1 1/2 miles as well as the Metropolitan Mile. Jockeys name is also a plus!

05 Jun 2014 11:25 AM
Where You From?

Mr. Haskins do you feel the same gratification I do? I jumped on the CC train after Junior's win at the San Filipe. I was at the "Sponsored by Yum brands" event in May and bought my $2 souviner. My Derby friend went to the Preakness and will be in NY this Saturday. He bought me a $2 ticket at each event. I will have my California Chrome Shrine at home. It will consist of the three winning tickets and a photo I took of Junior after he came out of the drug test hut at Churchill Downs.

I hate it when people think they are part of a professional sports team when the say "We put a whoopin on them.", but for some reason I feel I'm part of this team. Mr. Coburn is right CC is America's horse.

05 Jun 2014 11:27 AM

Hi Steve, I don't know if you've met Gary Stevens brother Scott, but he'll be riding Broadway Empire in the Met. Scott is the absolute toughest SOB (in a good way) in a sport filled with the toughest SOBs. Not sure why Mikey isn't on Palace Malice but I think the 1 post and no Mike makes him vulnerable.

05 Jun 2014 11:46 AM

While the horse racing world has held its collective breath, California Chrome has gone about his business of winning. His fans out of control whooping and hollering when he makes his patented move has left many hoarse, tears gushing from their blissful eyes. What will transpire on Saturday afternoon? Undoubtedly this horse, with his mystical powers, will bring tears to our eyes once again, joyous or sorrowful tears are the only options. In the sports world this is good as it gets; World Series, NBA finals, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, Masters all wrapped into one, no looking ahead, the road ends here. No next season. Only one horse with one chance. Such a wondrous treat this horse has given us! As many have stated it is up to the racing gods now. The floodgate is waiting. For the sake of ending the drought and finishing the storybook tale, please end it with buckets of victorious joyful tears!

05 Jun 2014 11:52 AM

Why all the pictures of Calif. Chrome ? 9 of them. Only 3 other horses were shown. 2 pictures of 2 of them and 1 of another. I'm hoping Chrome comes in 5th and I have the Superfecta.

05 Jun 2014 12:29 PM

I was reading an article the other day that said Chrome is routinely galloping 2 miles to 2 3/8ths miles everyday.  Talk about building stamina!!  I was a little worried about only having 1 workout in between the Preakness and Belmont.  When Chrome's trainer said I don't need any speed, I need stamina, I felt better.  I really like that he is going long and slow in the gallops.  Even the stoutest bred horses in Medal Count and Commissioner dont seem to be galloping more than 1 1/2 miles a day.  I truely believe Chrome will not only win the Belmont, but that he will win for fun.  One other point about Chrome that has been bugging me.  PEople are actually calling him modeslty bred!  Uh.....hello....his mother is 3x3 to one of the best producing Buckpasser mares EVER! His sire is a son of Pulpit out of a Cozzene mare.  Lucky Pulpit was bred to be a miler.  Chromes mother would have been snatched up in a second by one of the greatest breeders of all time, that being Tesio.  He loved 3x3 inbreeding to top broodmares.  Go back even farther and you have Vaguely Noble and Ribot.  Plenty of stamina and CLASS in that pedigree.  Chrome will go to stud in Kentucky, and he should be given all opportunity to succeed.  He is from a top sire line and should do well.

05 Jun 2014 1:01 PM

someone teach Bill Gowan how to apply a tongue tie.

05 Jun 2014 1:17 PM
Fran Loszynski

Oh what beautiful pics Steve. They all deserve to win. Destiny will prevail. With the pics of Alex and Tapit and all of these great champions I have to go out and buy a new scrapbook for my racing fanship! One question Steve because of your expertise in the field. Do you think it  will bother Ride On Curlin to have three different jockeys ? Is it a matter of adjustment for him? or just a given that he will adjust?

05 Jun 2014 1:30 PM
steve from st louis

I hope it doesn't happen but I see Wicked Strong as Birdsong apologizing as he passes a bouncing Chrome.

05 Jun 2014 2:39 PM
steve from st louis

I hope I'm wrong but I see Medal Count apologizing as Birdstone did when he went by Smarty Jones.

05 Jun 2014 3:34 PM

Thanks Steve for all your updates and information leading to the Belmont.  Thanks also again for your Derby Dozen and Triple Crown information as we come down the last nail-biter.

Your scenario is pretty much how I envisioned things.  My main concern is who and how many jockeys will try to keep Victor and Junior squeezed in on the rail from the two hole.  Here's trusting Victor to ride a smart race.  I also think that Junior has shown that he's not going to be bullied out of a position he wants.  I love it.  

I'll be at the Belmont again.  Went through this with Smarty Jones and two years ago with I'll Have Another. I'm fully aware that anything can happen and have prepared myself that win, lose or dead-heat, Junior has shown us the guts of a champion.  I said at Santa Anita Derby time that he looked like he had some room to fill out and he has.  With all the rigors of the Triple Crown Trail, Junior has flourished, added weight, is training like a monster and has matured before our very eyes.  He sometimes reminds me of a veteran 5 year old when he's out in the morning.  So let's do it Junior.

California Chrome to win over Wicked Strong

Will box them with Commanding Curve and Ride On Curlin for the tri.  

Safe trips to all travelers and safe trips for all the jockeys and horses.

Thanks for the great pics Steve.

Go Chrome, Bring it Home!

robinm--I feel for you.  I've had a few times, with my commitments to church, had to DVR a triple Crown race and watch it later.  Trying to keep people from telling you who won is the fun part.  Someone at the wedding or at the reception is going to know who won.  Maybe, if you can, after the ceremony, get home, watch the last part, scream and yell for Chrome, then get back to the reception and CELEBRATE!  Good Luck!

05 Jun 2014 3:56 PM
NY bred

I'll be at the Belmont Stakes.  My buddy and I have bus transportation and grand stand seats.  It will be an exciting day and a great card.  The only thing I will add about the Belmont Stakes is remember that Todd Pletcher is the number one trainer at Belmont Park for a reason.  Because of this, I give Commissioner a big chance to threaten.

05 Jun 2014 5:01 PM
steve from st louis

I meant to type Medal Count but mistakenly put down Wicked Strong. For the record, I like Dale's horse in here but would love to see California Chrome's connections after a win. He's probably stand for less than Boundry's $20,000 after Big Browns' run.

05 Jun 2014 7:07 PM

Summing, Woodchopper, Kingpost, Sunday Silence, Easy Goer & Canonero II!.... I just can't get enough of The Belmont.........It's awesome baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

05 Jun 2014 7:20 PM
Paula Higgins

These pictures are just fantastic Steve! Love them. Thank you so much. Yes, California Chrome is well loved. He has the look of eagles to me, like Zenyatta did (another well loved horse). He surveys the field, taking it all in. A very intelligent horse. He has every reason to be victorious on Saturday thanks to his stamina, push button moves/speed, the ability to rate and not get into speed duels, and being in top shape/on the muscle. He has had outstanding old school training and nurturing. It all counts. I don't think even a slightly bad break is a deal breaker, no pun intended. He is a very versatile horse and he has a jockey who knows him and what he is capable of doing and Victor knows Belmont. I think his biggest competition are Commanding Curve, Tonalist and Wicked Strong. Unless he is tired from the first two legs and it is finally catching up to him, I expect he will win. I am hoping so for him and all his connections. They deserve it and the sport needs it.

05 Jun 2014 8:02 PM

Good column, Steve.

At first blush I pictured Chrome getting hauled down from behind at the wire. Now, I think it's just the opposite. Godspeed and a good trip for all.

06 Jun 2014 12:16 AM

Steve, thanks for all your insight and the beautiful pictures on this triple crown trail.  I'm going with:  1) California Chrome, 2) Ride On Curlin and 3) Wicked Strong.  I am going to an OTB facility to place a win bet on Chrome tomorrow a.m. so I have a souvenir ticket on the newest triple crown winner. (I have never done that before!!!!)

06 Jun 2014 8:20 AM
Jersey Girl

Big respect and affection for California Chrome and Victor Espinoza going into tomorrow's Belmont Stakes. May CC be wearing the crown when all is said and done. Ride On Curlin and Wicked Strong will complete my prime trifecta, as I have had both of them very high on my lists throughout the TC run.

Medal Count and Commanding Curve will round things out for me.

robinm, I feel for you. My nephew and his wife (who got married on Breeder's Cup Day, the one and only time the Breeder's Cup came to New Jersey)are having their little one's first birthday party...on Belmont Stakes Day! We'll all be delighted to wish little Eva a happy birthday, and then make a mad scramble for cars, tvs...all great stuff. Great celebrations.

Steve, thank you for the journey you've taken all of us on for all these many months. Trips such as these are always remembered fondly.

Good luck to everyone. Safe trip for all the horses and jockeys. Go CC!!  

06 Jun 2014 1:16 PM

As usual Quinnbit you have expressed how many of us feel so joyfully. It will be tears of joy or sadness. I would add that there will be no tears of sorrow from an injury or worse.

06 Jun 2014 1:38 PM

Steve, I know I'm gonna get chewed up and spit out on saying this but if I was a jockey and I knew my horse had no chance of winning the TC (since he hadnt won the first two legs) then I wouldn't want to challenge the one horse that could bring some much needed attention to a dying sport as horse racing is. I mean, like "ganging up on and trying to box a horse in" I mean, I know it's all about the money but gosh, doesn't these jockeys want to see a TC once in their lifetimes?  The sport sure could use the excitement for a change.

06 Jun 2014 1:58 PM
Soldier Course


I think that a line can be drawn between (1) ganging up on a horse just to keep him from winning even though you have no chance of winning; and (2) ganging up on a horse because you have a chance of winning that particular race. The first instance should be against the rules of racing, and I hope it is. The second instance is just doing your job.  I'll always believe that (1) happened at the Belmont Stakes ten years ago, when two runners ganged up on Smarty Jones. I hope the stewards will be watching carefully tomorrow.

Thanks everyone for a great blogging season these last five weeks. This will probably be my last posting until after the race, because my cousin will arrive in a couple of hours for the big weekend. We watched Secretariat win the Belmont Stakes together in 1973, on television. Fingers crossed.

Mike Relva, missed hearing from you after Derby. Hope all is all right at your end.

06 Jun 2014 2:58 PM
lawrence vaccarelli

steve you are driving the chrome bus

06 Jun 2014 11:41 PM

Go Chrome! Thanks for the extra special photos, Steve. I can't say enough about Chrome without gushing. My fingers, toes, and heart are crossed. 36 years...maybe this time...maybe.

07 Jun 2014 1:24 PM

thankx Steve, Lenny et al for comprehensive coverage... disappointing finish of the race[but in my view's a demanding grind]...but not as disappointing as the co owners comments post loss...It's ez to cast aspersions, but he needs to thank whomever he believes in for this gift, and not as my "little league "coach made clear to the team..."you show your class when you lose", the important thing is to give it your best...after all it's just a game]

07 Jun 2014 7:49 PM

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