California Chrome's rivals happy to spoil the party

Wed Jun 4, 2014 5:25pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - While the vast majority of American racing fans are desperate to see California Chrome win Saturday's Belmont Stakes and complete the elusive Triple Chrome, his rivals' connections face a bittersweet prospect.

As devoted race fans themselves, most would love nothing more than to see a horse end the 36-year Triple Crown drought, knowing that it would help raise the profile of the sport in the United States.

But with $900,000 on offer to the winner and the prestige of winning one of America's oldest and most revered races, none of the rival connections have any fears about spoiling what would be one of the biggest moments in American racing.

"I'm a racing fan like everybody else," said Billy Gowan, the trainer of Ride On Curlin, who finished second to California Chrome in the Preakness States. "I've always wanted a Triple Crown, but hopefully not this year.

"If we can win it and he runs second, that'd be fine."

Eleven horses have won the Triple Crown, which is considered the ultimate test for American race horses because it is restricted to 3-year-olds who have to compete in three races in five weeks, all in different states, over different distances and invariably against fresher horses.

Only Ride On Curlin and General a Rod will have taken on California Chrome in all three legs of this year's Triple Crown, prompting complaints from the Triple Crown hopeful's outspoken co-owner Steve Coburn that others out to spoil the occasion.

"If I'm not mistaken triple means three, like a triple decker ice cream, three scoops," Coburn growled. "Yet they will sit out the first two just to screw things up in the last one."   Continued...

Jun 4, 2014; Elmont, NY, USA; California Chrome ridden by exercise rider Willie Delgado on the track during workouts in preparation for the 2014 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports