Triple Crown hopeful 'Chrome' arrives at Belmont
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome stands outside his stall after arriving at Belmont Park on May 20, 2014 in Elmont, New York - by Al Bello
The three-year-old chestnut colt was transported 4 1/2 hours by van from Baltimore's Pimlico track to the site of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 7.
California Chrome, now residing in Belmont Park's Barn 26, will try to become the first Triple Crown champion in 36 years by capturing the 146th Belmont Stakes, the longest race of the treble at 1 1/2 miles.
Since Affirmed completed the most recent Triple Crown sweep in 1978, 12 horses have won the Derby and Preakness but failed to capture the Belmont.
"This means the world to all of us," California Chrome assistant trainer Alan Sherman said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."
California Chrome is trained by 77-year-old Art Sherman, who became the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby when his horse rolled to victory May 3 at Churchill Downs.
Two weeks later, Chrome captured the Preakness and despite a brief concern over now-approved equine nasal strips that will be used in the race, the triple sweep is within reach.
"It has been an unbelievable ride for us," said Alan Sherman, Art's youngest son. "It's hard to describe. It has just been so much fun. This horse has taken us on the ride of our lives.
"I'm so proud of my dad for him to be able to do this towards the end of his career. He's very deserving. I think the industry could really use a Triple Crown winner right now, especially with a story like this."
California Chrome co-owners Steven Coburn and Perry Martin were offered millions of dollars earlier this year to sell a controling interest in the horse, but said no and went on a ride that could become priceless.
"This horse didn't cost a ton of money to buy him or breed him. It's kind of a feel-good story," Alan Sherman said. "This goes to show you never know what can happen in this game. This is what makes us get up every morning. You get the young horses every year and every year you hope you get a horse like this. It's finally come our way. We're enjoying it."
Accompanying California Chrome on the ride from Baltimore was Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin, who lost by 1 1/2 lengths. He is expected to be among nine rivals for California Chrome in the Belmont Stakes.
Other Belmont Stakes probables include Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, Derby fourth-place finisher Wicked Strong, Samraat, Tonalist, Commissioner, Intense Holiday and Preakness third-place finisher Social Inclusion.
Other horses considering a run at the Belmont title include General a Rod, Ring Weekend and Kid Cruz.