There’s been a lot of talk about this weekend’s Belmont Stakes horse race, the last leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Horse Racing, but what does it all mean? Because horse racing is a fairly low-on-the-radar sport, I’ll break everything down for you, from where to watch to why this event could make history.
The Triple Crown—what is it exactly?
In horse racing, winning the Triple Crown means a horse won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes in the same year.
Why is the 2014 Belmont Stakes so Important?
It’s been 35 years since a horse won the Triple Crown. Throughout history, 21 horses won the first 2 races but missed the Belmont win. This year, California Chrome won the Derby and the Preakness, and now he’s highly favored to win Belmont.
Big Deal—How Difficult Could it be to Win Three Races?
Winning the Triple Crown is the nearly impossible dream of every horse owner, jockey, and enthusiast of the sport. In the 147 years of the Crown’s existence, only 11 horses have won all three races. The most recent was 1978’s Affirmed, but you’re probably most familiar with 1973’s Secretariat, thanks to the Disney movie starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich. (Check it out, it’s a great film—it has a 7.2 on IMDB.)
Who is California Chrome?
California Chrome’s owners, Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, were actually mocked when they paid $8,000 for the supposedly worthless old mare, Love That Chase. They took the teasing in stride and called their racing company DAP Racing (short for Dumb-Ass Partners). When Love That Chase foaled California Chrome in 2011, they had no idea he’d ever win one race, let alone be a top contender for the Crown. Now he’s already a legend. You don’t think Disney is looking into California Chrome scripts this very moment?
What Makes California Chrome So Special?
Oh, everyone loves California Chrome—he’s the common man’s pony. When he recently won the Santa Anita Derby, Chrome’s people invited fans to join the owners in the winner’s circle. Over 100 “Chromies” (that’s what fans call themselves) crammed into the photo—owner-fan closeness like that never happens. Also, in all seriousness, Chrome is a beautiful animal. Check out this clip—that horse has more charm and personality than most people I know. He’s a true Cinderella story, and people love underdogs.
What’s with Chrome’s Nasal Strips Everyone’s Talking About?
California Chrome has worn nasal strips in his last six races—all wins. The strips decrease airway resistance, and some people believe they enhance performance. Pundits even called the controversy “Nasalgate.” Ultimately Belmont officials ruled that Chrome, and all other competing horses, could use the equine nasal strips.
OK, Be Honest, Should I Really Bet on California Chrome?
I’m a betting man by nature, but when it comes to horse racing—I’m just in it for the beauty of the sport. If I were you, I’d just invite some friends over and make an afternoon out of the race. And I guarantee you, watching those 11 horses sprint for 1.5 miles (12 furlongs!) will be the most exciting 3 minutes of your Saturday.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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