On Saturday evening at Belmont Park in New York, California Chrome will try to make history and become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown as he goes for the win in the 146th Belmont Stakes.
The three-year-old colt will need to overcome some tough odds to win, however. Despite being the morning favorite at 3-5, no horse has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, although 12 others since then have come as close as California Chrome is now.
One year after Affirmed, Spectacular Bird took the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but finished third in the Belmont. Two years later, Pleasant Colony suffered the same fate, winning the first two but coming in third at Belmont Park.
Six years later, in 1987, Alysheba became the next horse to take the Derby and Preakness, only to come up short in New York, placing fourth. Sunday Silence came the closest in 1989, finishing second at the Belmont to Easy Goer after winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
In the late 90s, three consecutive years saw Triple Crown hopefuls head into the Belmont, but Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, and Charismatic in 1999 all couldn’t come through at Belmont Park.
The first decade of the new millennium brought four more chances over a seven year span from 2002-08, as War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and Big Brown all saw victory at the Derby and Preakness. War Emblem finished a disappointing eighth to Sarava in 2002; Funny Cide took third to Empire Maker in 2003; and Smarty Jones was runner up to Birdstone in 2004. Big Brown, the favorite entering the Belmont in 2008, finished last.
The most recent horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown was I’ll Have Another in 2012. Expected to be a heavy favorite heading into the Belmont, he was scratched from the race due to a tendon injury.
Now, with the countdown to the start of the Belmont down to just hours and minutes, only time will tell if California Chrome can overcome the Triple Crown disappointment of years past and secure his place in history as one of the greatest thoroughbreds to ever take to the track.