California Chrome is the captivating 3-year-old to have a chance on June 7 to become the 12th thoroughbred to win the prestigious Triple Crown of horse racing.
Presently, there are 11 potential starters for the third leg of the Crown at Belmont Park. The field of challengers includes runners up in both the Kentucky Derby (Commanding Curve) and the Preakness (Ride on Curlin). If that were not enough competition, the third place finishers
In both of those races (Danza and Social Inclusion) will be on hand to deny the Chrome the Triple Crown status. Add one more key challenger, however, in the expected entry of Peter Pan champion Tonalist making this Belmont one for the ages.
The developing story is focused on the eligibility of California Chrome as the chestnut has been running wearing nasal strips which enhance his breathing. The New York stewards at Belmont Park have not yet ruled if the Triple Crown contender will be allowed to race utilizing this additive. If he is not allowed to compete with the strips, it would be a disappointment of Secretariat proportion.
Speaking of Secretariat, it has now been 36 years since Affirmed won the last Triple Crown dating back to 1978. In addition to these two, the others in the elite conversation include Sir Barton (1919); Gallant Fox (1930); Omaha (1935); War Admiral (1937); Whirlaway (1941); Count Fleet (1943); Assault (1946); Citation (1948); and Seattle Slew (1977). Secretariat triumphed in 1973.
California Chrome has been compared to one of America’s most famous horses of all time — Seabiscuit. This horse born on May 23, 1933 in Kentucky, became a role model for many Americans attempting to find hope in dealing with the Great Depression. Seabiscuit had a most interesting story prior to becoming famous. He was criticized by some as being lazy and temperamental. A new trainer began working with him and by design or accident, moved several other animals into and near his stall to keep him company. An older horse, Pumpkin, was moved in who would become the lifelong companion of Seabiscuit. In addition a stray dog named Pocatell and a Spider Monkey named Jo-Jo also took up residence.
On Nov. 1, 1938, one of the greatest races in American history took place at Pimlico when Seabiscuit and Triple Crown winner, War Admiral, challenged one another to determine the better horse and to put to rest the growing national debate. Some 40M people tuned in their radios that day to hear Seabiscuit win by 4 lengths. Ironically, both horses were descended from Man o’ War.
One in three Americans listened as the smaller horse 5 foot 2 inch Seabiscuit earned legendary status. Following this stunning upset, the stallion would go on to win at Santa Anita at age 7! Americans seem to identify with underdogs and in this case it may be the “underhorse” if California Chrome goes to the post at Belmont Park on June 9th.
Facts referencing Seabiscuit courtesy of American Experience Documentary and WGBH/PBS.
Steve Vassallo is HottyToddy.com’s newest contributor. Steve will be writing on Ole Miss athletics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie.