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Chrome's Crown Chances

 If California Chrome is to cross the wire first on June 7th he would be the first since Affirmed in 1978 to capture racing's seemingly impossible feat. There have been twelve others that have tried since 1978 and all twelve have failed by some way or another. Each horse was given the best opportunity to win and each horse came up short, whether it was the racing gods or whatever you want to call it they have kept the Triple Crown vacant for thirty six long years, and it's about time someone ends the drought. Whether it's California Chrome or not, well we will have to wait till June 7th to find out if he really is just as special as everyone thinks he is.

The twelve before him were all great horses that each had their own special qualities that made them the best of their generation; yet each horse crossed the wire a loser at Belmont. The Belmont really separates the men from the boys and with California Chrome looking to cross into the pantheon of greatness and immortality I am going to take a look back at each of those twelve that lost the crown.

First was Spectacular Bid in 1979 trying to cap a third straight year of Triple Crown champions, but it was not to be. Whether it was a loose safety pin or a bad ride we will never know.

  

Next in 1981 came Pleasant Colony a Virgina bred from humble beginnings trained by John Campo. His deep closing style wrangled him in wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but in the Belmont he simply ran into a horse who was feeling good on the day. Summing also benefited from a dream trip and was simply the best horse on the day. 



Next was Alysheba in 1987. Alysheba was a tired horse in the Belmont plain and simple he got beat by Bet Twice who had obviously got along through the Triple Crown better than Alysheba had, and it was evident by Alysheba's fourth place finish. 



Next is was Sunday Scilence's chance to sweep the crown in 1989. He fell short to Easy Goer who simply loved Belmont Park. No one would have beaten Easy Goer on that day. 




Next was Silver Charm in 1997. Silver Charm was a fiercely competitive colt and had loads of heart. He lost the Belmont due to the crafty ride of Chris McCarron on Touch Gold who knew Charm would fight back if he saw Touch Gold. McCarron took Touch Gold wide and in the end spoiled Charm's chances to be the twelfth Triple Crown champion.  


 

Bob Baffert was back again in 1998 with Real Quiet. Real Quiet was a bargin basement priced horse and proved he was very capable of achieving immortality in the Derby and the Preakness, but lost by a dirty nose in the Belmont. Real Quiet was the closest to sweeping the Triple Crown and if he had not lost focus during the homestretch he would've held off the late charge of Victory Gallop. 



The next chance at the Crown was a former claimer named Charismatic he was a lazy horse who was simply peaking at the right time. He unfortunately broke down and never ran again after the Belmont.  

 

Bob Baffert was back again for a chance at the crown in 2002 with a speed-ball named War Emblem who just so happened to be ridden by California Chrome's rider Victor Espinoza. War Emblem lost all chance at the start though and wound up never being a factor. 


 

New York had a hero to cheer for in 2003 and it was Funny Cide the gritty gelding didn't handle the sloppy track and wound up third to Empire Maker. 


 

Smarty Jones in 2004 was America's hero. Much like California Chrome people thought Smarty Jones couldn't get the distance in the Belmont, but he proved them wrong though he did wind up second to Birdstone he still ran a very game race. He showed his real heart that day, and though he was very difficult to rate in the Belmont which probably cost him his chance at the crown he still gave a pretty good finishing kick. 


 

Big Brown was the next to try and many thought he would be the horse to do it, but it simply was not to be he wasn't happy at all that day and wound up being pulled up. 


 

Then it was I'll Have Another's turn to turn the tables on history, but a tendon issue would prevent him from ever starting in the Belmont. That was one of the most dis-hearting ends to a Triple Crown I could've possibly witnessed of all the horses that have tried I'll Have Another seemed like the most for sure chance, but it was not to be. 

If California Chrome is to win the Belmont he is going to have to rate and rate kindly. The Belmont is a long way and if he doesn't rate well he won't win. Chrome also has to break well and be somewhat forwardly placed because he doesn't deal well with kickback. Overall Chrome is a very talented individual and I would love to see him take the Triple Crown. It's been a long thirty six years and the drought must come to an end why not have it end in a flash of shiny Chrome. Good Luck to California Chrome and all his connections moving forward! 

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