Relatively quiet here at Belmont Park in the AM. California Chrome made an appearance — to the delight of about a hundred spectators lining the rail. He’s visually impressive — has a strong head about him. Critics abound, however. The most critical gave much credit to what could be called “crazy racing luck” at worst, or “good positioning” at best. Some buzz about Commanding Curve, the second place Derby finisher. He’s in good form and quite possibly improved off the Derby. He’ll need to be if Chrome runs his race.
Interest throughout the town — certainly to increase as we get closer. Even non-racing fans are excited for California Chrome — don’t think I’ve seen this level of popular interest since Smarty Jones. Fairly long segment yesterday during drive-time on THE FAN – always a good barometer of interest. NYC is always a great sports town, but with a Triple Crown on the line and the Rangers in the Stanley Cup, the vibe is excellent.
The draw is in a few hours. With such a long race, post position is less important. The most winners have come from the 1st post, but the last to do so was Empire Maker in 2003.
Remember, it’s not just the Belmont Stakes over the next few days. Belmont has the usual top-quality racing for the next three days — along with the inaugural Belmont Gold Cup contested over 2 miles on the turf on Friday. In addition to the usual coverage of the race of the day, I’ll have extensive coverage of one of the best races of the year, the Met Mile.