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06/05/2014

Lone Star Park handicapper weighs in on California Chrome's chances

1396892263000-California-Chrome-a1-72Twelve horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown since 1979 and none has grabbed that third race - The Belmont - for immortality.

On Saturday, California Chrome will try to be "that horse" to join Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Secretariat the precious few others to achieve this sport's highest honor by winning The Triple Crown.

California Chrome was initially set as the 3-5 favorite to win, and drew the No. 2 pole in the 11-horse field.
Because I know just about zero about betting on animals, I called Mr. Rick Lee, the official handicapper at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, for a pro's pro advice to watch (wager?) the big race.

What horses are the biggest threats? No Triple Crown winner has ever defeated seven horses. California Chrome will have to beat 10. He likes to take the lead early, and you are going to have to work hard to get the lead early.
None of these horses have run this far (1.5 miles).
I could see a situation where Ride On Curlin (No. 5 post, 12-1), which finished second in the Preakness. He is very dangerous.
WickedStrongWoodMemorial2014AC_DavidAlcosser298And Wicked Strong (No. 9 post, 6-1). In the Kentucky Derby, he had a ton of traffic problems. He skipped The Preakness so he could be fresher. 

On the final turn, where should California Chrome to be to win? He will be in trouble if he's in front. That is too far to go. He is such a competitive horse, like the great ones are, that it's hard to beat them when they are in front. His problem will be, will he make the lead too soon?

Is he a special horse, or has he capitalized on fields that are not deep? That's a good question. I have gained respect for him with every race. He wasn't a great two year old. He has won six straight.
He is right on the cusp of being great. If he passes this test, it will convert everybody. He is a very good horse.

Do you think he will win? Uhh ... it's hard to say. I'm not going to pick him. I am going to pick Wicked Strong; I think he is a much better wager. But it's 50-50. It's like betting a football game. 

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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