California Chrome raises hopes of a Triple Crown winner
By Julian Linden
NEW YORK (Reuters) - It has been so long since a horse won the Triple Crown that racing fans across the United States are starting to wonder whether it will ever happen again.
The quest for American racing's Holy Grail has frustrated and fascinated an entire generation since Affirmed last win the Triple Crown in 1978 but the long wait could be as over as early as Saturday.
California Chrome is on a hot streak and if he captures the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, he will be the 12th Triple Crown champion.
His rags-to-riches tale has already endeared him to a nation and given new hope that he could be the colt to break the spell.
"You think about it, 36 years and nobody's won the Triple Crown. It'd be quite an honor," said Art Sherman, the 77-year-old trainer of California Chrome. "I'm hoping that we can get the final race. It would mean a lot to racing."
California Chrome is two-thirds of the way there after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes but the Belmont Stakes is the one that ultimately separates the greats from the immortals.
While not as famous or lucrative as the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont is not called the Test of the Champion for nothing. The grueling 1 1/2-mile (2,400 meter) classic is a trial of endurance, speed and patience for man and beast alike.