California Chrome is the 12th horse to run in the Belmont with a chance at the Triple Crown since 1978.Saturday at Belmont Park, California Chrome will attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed in 1978. The 35-year drought is the longest since the first Triple Crown winner in 1919.
Here are some things to keep in mind while watching his quest for history.
Big field means big trouble
No Triple Crown winner has beaten more than seven horses in the Belmont to win the Triple Crown. In 1977 Seattle Slew beat seven horses, as did Citation in 1948.
On average, the 11 prior Triple Crown winners have beaten 4.4 horses in the Belmont. The average Belmont field size in Triple Crown wins is 5.4 starters, while the average Belmont field size in Triple Crown Belmont losses is 9.2 starters.
A field of 11 is expected for Saturday, which is the same field size War Emblem, Real Quiet, Pleasant Colony and Kauai King each faced in their failed Triple Crown attempts.
Odds-on no sure thing
There have been seven odds-on favorites since Affirmed last won the Triple Crown as an odds-on favorite. None of those seven odds-on favorites (less than 1-to-1) have won.
If California Chrome wins the Belmont, it will mark the first time since Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown in 1977 that the favorite won all three legs of the Triple Crown. It would also be the first time since 2007 the winners of the three Triple Crown races were single-digit odds. All winners in 2007 were less than 5-1.
Last Five Belmont Winners
With Triple Crown on Line
Expect the unexpected?
Should California Chrome lose, odds are a longshot will beat him. Of the last five Belmont winners that thwarted a Triple Crown, four were at least 30-1. Overall, five of the last six Belmont winners have been at least 12-1.
Interestingly, the last time California Chrome lost a race, it was to a 47-1 shot named Better Bet in the Golden State Juvenile at Santa Anita on November 1, 2013.
History to repeat itself?
The last Belmont Stakes favorite to break from post position No. 2 was Silver Charm in 1997, who like California Chrome, was going for a Triple Crown. Silver Charm finished 2nd to Touch Gold.
Of the 11 post positions which will be occupied Saturday in the Belmont Stakes, post 2 has the longest drought for a winner. The last winner to break from post 2 was Tabasco Cat in 1994.
Best chance to win is gate-to-wire
The last four Triple Crown winners have all led gate-to-wire and been an odds-on favorite. Since 2000, 11 of 14 Belmont Stakes winners were first or second at the mile and a quarter pole. The furthest position for a winning horse at this point - fifth place, and that has happened just twice (1998 - Victory Gallop; 1954 - High Gun).
Another chance to become the first
Victor Espinoza, born in Veracruz, Mexico, can become the first Latino jockey to win the Triple Crown. Espinoza is the fifth jockey to have multiple attempts at a Triple Crown. Of the previous four jockeys to have two attempts at the Triple Crown, only Eddie Arcaro was able to win at least one.