TIME Horse Racing

California Chrome Set to Race at Belmont for Triple Crown After All

139th Preakness Stakes
Molly Riley—Getty Images California Chrome #3, ridden by Victor Espinoza, head to the finish line enroute to winning the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17, 2014 in Baltimore.

Successful colt California Chrome's bid to be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 is reportedly back on track after New York state officials are said to have informed trainers that the thoroughbred could wear a nasal strip for the Belmont Stakes

Updated 11:30 am ET, May 19

Prize racehorse California Chrome’s bid to win the Triple Crown is apparently back on, after state officials reportedly agreed to let the the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner wear a nasal strip at the Belmont Stakes.

ESPN, citing unnamed sources within the California Chrome camp, reports the colt has been given the go-ahead to wear a nasal strip in the third and final race for the crown by New York Racing Association steward Steve Lewandowski.

California Chrome has worn a nasal strip, which help horses breathe, throughout his recent six-race winning streak. However, New York officials have a history of banning the strips: Back in 2012, horse I’ll Have Another wore nasal strips during its Kentucky and Preakness wins, but was going to be barred from doing so at Belmont. (The point became moot when Another was scratched after a leg injury.)

If California Chrome wins at Belmont, it would make him the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.



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TIME Kentucky Derby

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APTOPIX Kentucky Derby Horse Racing
Matt Slocum—AP A horse goes for a workout at Churchill Downs prior to the race, May 3, 2014, in Louisville, Ky.

California Chrome is the runaway favorite to win the 140th Kentucky Derby Saturday, but Wicked Strong and Danza are hot on his heels

The biggest day of the year for horse-racing fans has arrived.

Nineteen horses will gallop out of the stalls for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday evening, with a tough field of jockeys looking to join a list of champions in the first leg of the Triple Crown. The 1.25-mile race at Kentucky’s Churchill Downs features a tight field, but the much-admired California Chrome is the clear betting favorite to win the race after number-two favorite horse Hoppertunity was forced to withdraw due to an issue in his front hoof.

Here’s a list of the top competitors at the 140th Kentucky Derby:

California Chrome may be the first California-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby in 52 years. The three-year-old chestnut colt has six wins and a second in 10 starts and has a huge hoof up in the betting odds, but was bred from comparatively humble origins. His trainer, Art Sherman, is trying to become the oldest to win the derby at age 77. Victor Espinoza, who as a jockey has already won the Derby before, will ride California Chrome Saturday.

Wicked Strong, the competition’s early second favorite, was named to honor Boston’s spirit after last year’s marathon bombings. The horse has strong odds, but he was placed on the outside gate, to the disappointment of trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Wicked Strong won the Wood Memorial in New York with a hard kick of the kind often seen at the Kentucky Derby. He’ll be ridden by jockey Rajiv Maragh.

Danza,another favorite of the race who emerged with second-place odds in Saturday betting,is named after Taxi star Tony Danza. The horse has powerful acceleration and won a big victory at the Arkansas Derby closing the last quarter of a mile in just 12 2/5 seconds. Joe Bravo will be Danza’s jockey.

Other top horses include Intense Holiday, ridden by John Velazquez, Samraat, ridden by Jose Ortiz, and Wildcat Red, whose jockey is Luis Saez.

Expect a winning time in the low 2-minute range as competitors push to beat the record 1:59 2/5 seconds winning time The winner will bring home $2 million.


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