On Saturday we will find out if California Chrome will become the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown. California Chrome is an early 3-5 favorite to win this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, the last leg in the Triple Crown.
This will be the 31st time in horse racing history that a horse will enter the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the Triple Crown. Eleven horses won all three races, the last coming in 1978 when Affirmed won the Triple Crown. There have been 19 times when the horse that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness lost the Belmont… more on that in a minute.
Note: In three instances, a horse won the first two races of the Triple Crown but did not run in the Belmont; Burgoo King (1932), Bold Venture (1936) and I’ll Have Another (2012).
As mentioned above, there have been 19 times where the horse that won the first two legs of the Triple Crown failed to win the Belmont Stakes. For the record, eight of those horses finished second, five finished third, three finished fourth, one finished seventh, one finished eighth, and one horse did not finish the race.
Let’s take a closer look at the 19 times a horse failed to win that final race of the Triple Crown. In simple terms, California Chrome will become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown or the 20th to win the first two races and not win the third leg. If California Chrome does not win Saturday, what does history tell us about which horse might win?
In the 19 races where the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner failed to win the Belmont to complete the Triple Crown, the eventual winners of those Belmont races fall into four categories:
In eight of those races, the horse that won the Belmont did not race in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness. In the last five times when a horse failed to win the Triple Crown because they lost at the Belmont, the horse that won the Belmont did not race in the Preakness. Four of the horse racing on Saturday did not race in this year’s Kentucky Derby or Preakness: Matterhorn, Matuszak, Commissioner and Tonalist. Could one of these four win the Belmont? Based on the pre-race odds, Matterhorn and Matuszak are both 30-1 odds, Commissioner is 20-1, while Tonalist is at 8-1. Keep an eye on Tonalist, although the horse will start from the farthest post of the 11 horses.
In four of those races, the horse that won the Belmont finished second in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. That won’t happen this year as two different horses finished second in the first two races: Commanding Curve (second in the Kentucky Derby; Ride on Curlin in the Preakness. The four horses that son the Belmont after finishing second in the first two races: Arts & Letters (1969), Bet Twice (1987), Easy Goer (1989) and Victory Gallop (1998). Keep an eye on Commanding Curve or Ride on Curlin.
In seven of those races, the horse that won the Belmont finished in the Top 10 in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The two horses that fit that bill in this year’s Belmont are Ride on Curlin (seventh and second) and General a Rod (11th and fourth).
In four of those races, the horse that won the Belmont finished in the Top 10 in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness. Four horses in this year’s Belmont did not run in the Preakness but did run in the Kentucky Derby: Medal Count, Commanding Curve, Samraat and Wicked Strong. Of the four, Wicked Strong has the best odds at 6-1.
Can California Chrome win on Saturday? Can Tonalist spoil the day with a win at Belmont in its only Triple Crown race? Can Commanding Curve or Ride on Curlin turn their earlier second-place finishes into a Belmont win? Is Wicked Strong the dark horse in the race?
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