- Lane Gold, ESPN Insider
For the 13th time since the last Triple Crown, which was won by Affirmed in 1978, a horse will take a shot at sports immortality as California Chrome runs in Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
One can certainly make the argument that a horse is long overdue to win the Triple Crown. It's been the longest drought in the sport's history, and the way Chrome has been racing and winning this year, it appears the elusive title is his to take.
The key for Chrome is to make his move at the right time. Jockeys who are unfamiliar with Belmont and its sweeping turns and long stretch have a tendency to move too early. A prime example is the heartbreaking defeat of Real Quiet in 1998, when jockey Kent Desormeaux moved prematurely and was caught at the wire by Victory Gallop.
Another caution flag for Chrome and his jockey, Victor Espinoza, is to not get pressured into vying for the early lead as there appears to be no clear early front-runner. Let's also not forget this is California Chrome's third race in five weeks, and that has compromised the chances of many Triple Crown attempts in recent years.
Although the Belmont Stakes has historically been "chalk" heavy, considering 43 percent of the favorites have won, only three of the past 20 favorites have been victorious. In addition, only two Derby winners since Affirmed have gone on to capture the Belmont (Swale in 1984 and Thunder Gulch in 1995).
However, for bettors this offers a unique opportunity to take a stand against the odds-on favorite, who will offer no value whatsoever.
Post position: No. 3
Morning line: 15-1
The runner-up in the Kentucky Derby took five weeks off, and being well-rested in a race as long as the Belmont has in recent years proved to be a winning formula.
Lane Gold breaks down horses that have the best chance to upset California Chrome's Triple Crown bid. He sees Commanding Curve as a strong value at 15-1.