By Jason Schott - Associate Editor - @JESchott19
California Chrome can make history on Saturday at the Belmont as he has the chance to be the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. He would also be the 12th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history.
California Chrome Co-owner Steve Coburn (at left in picture above) was asked at a press conference on Tuesday if he thinks he can do it, and he said, "Yes I do. Yes, I expect him to win on Saturday. I really do. He's putting on weight, he's putting on size, he's putting on muscle." He also said, "From the first day that I saw him, I knew he was special."
California Chrome had big victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, leaving his competition in the dust down the stretch of each race. That has led to this almost feeling like a coronation, but in actuality, the California Chrome team is not taking this one for granted. The Belmont is the longest of the Triple Crown races, with a distance of a mile-and-a-half.
Coburn says a prayer to his sister Brenda, who died of cancer, before every race. Coburn said, "I pray to her to keep him safe. He was born on my sister Brenda's birthday, February 18th. She died of cancer when she was just 36 years old and it's been 36 years, this year, since there's been a Triple Crown winner. I've always said she's this colt's guardian angel and I honestly believe that."
This is the first trip to New York for the California Chrome team, as the opportunity never presented itself before. Coburn said, "Actually, that's always been on our bucket list (coming to Manhattan). One of them was to go to Kentucky also, but we never thought we'd go there with the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby. We go to Maryland (for the Preakness) and now we're here in New York. we always wanted to come here and see the sights and we're here because of the horse we have. We're blessed to have this horse and if it weren't for him we probably wouldn't be here today."
Win or lose, Coburn will be back on a plane to Nevada on Monday morning. "We're just everyday guys, we work every day," said Coburn, who works five days a week at a factory that makes the magnetic strips on the backs of credit cards.
Coburn's journey began when he and Perry Martin bred California Chrome from their $8,000 mare Love the Chase to the sire Lucky Pulpit, who is worth just $2,500. Coburn and Martin later formed Dumbass Partners. "We believe in the horse. We believe in our horse. We're just glad we can share this story with people. We just hope it gives other people the incentive to go out and try hard. You can make your dreams come true if you're willing to put your hard work into it and that's exactly what we did."
The Belmont Stakes draw was held on Wednesday morning, and California Chrome, the 3-5 morning line favorite, will be in the second position. Trainer Alan Sherman said of the No. 2 post position, "Well, I think going a mile and a half, it's a good post position. We feel safe on the ground leaving there. I think it's going to be a jockey's race anyhow. It gives you a chance to see who's going to have the speed and where you land going into the first turn."
The next horse with the best chance to win, with a 6-1 morning line, is Wicked Strong, owned by Centennial Farms, and will be in the ninth spot. Tonalist, at 8-1 morning line and owned by Robert S. Evans, will be in the 11th spot. Commanding Curve, 15-1 morning line and owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, will be No. 4.
General A Rod, owned by Skychal Racing, with a 20-1 morning line, will be No. 10. The horse is named after the original owner of the horse, not the Yankees third baseman currently under suspension, Alex Rodriguez.
Medal Count, owned by Spendthrift Farm with a 20-1 morning line, will be in the 1 position. Matterhorn, owned by Eclipse Throughbred Partners, Town & Country Farms and trained by Todd Pletcher is a 30-1 morning line and in the No. 3 position. Ride on Curlin, owned by Daniel J. Dougherty and with a 20-1 morning line, is at No. 5. Matuszak, owned by George Prussin and with a 30-1 morning line, is N0.6. Samraat, owned by My Meadowbrook Farms, is a 20-1 morning line and will be No. 7. Commissioner, owned by WinStar Farms and trained by Todd Pletcher, will be No. 8.