Update, 10:35 pm Saturday:
California Chrome failed to win the Triple Crown, finishing fourth to a horse named Tonalist. California Chrome suffered a gash to his right front foot, possibly at the start of the race, which may have impacted his effort. His trainer says the injury is not serious. Chrome's co-owner, Steve Coburn told NBC Sports in an emotional post race interview that he doesn't think any horse will win the Triple Crown in his lifetime. Coburn said it was cowardly for some owners to have their horses to sit out one of the Triple Crown races, in order send a fresh horse to try and take down his horse which competed in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. Tonalist, the winner, did not race in the Derby or Preakness. The heavy favorite was running his third tough race in a 5-week span. Coburn's comments were debated by fans on Twitter. It has been 36 years since there was a Triple Crown winner. The last horse to do so was Affirmed in 1978.
Original post (Friday morning):
My non horse-racing friends are starting to check in now that the Belmont Stakes is near. They want to know if California Chrome can really win the Triple Crown. Yes, I say, with complete conviction. How do I know this? It’s not because the flashy chestnut from the Central Valley has drawn a good post position (2) for the race, or that he’s training like monster, or that he’s put on weight, even after a grueling series of races. It's not because Chrome’s breeding indicates he’s got just as good a chance as the next horse of staying the distance. And I’m not blindly rooting for him because of how uplifting it would be to see a horse from humble beginnings win The Sport of Kings coveted Triple Crown. Nope.
Chrome will win because of Lady Luck. Chrome’s team knows the importance of luck. All race trackers do. They know you can have the fastest horse in the race, the cleverest rider, winningest trainer, and hail from the richest bluegrass barn in Kentucky ... but luck is the factor you can’t control, at any level of the game.
This is probably why so many who make a living on the track are superstitious. I learned about this while working on the backstretch at Arlington Park outside of Chicago. Walking horses around in the early morning after they’ve exercised, you start to see what folks do to conjure luck. Avoid black cats, sure. But some folks refuse to eat peanuts in the barn. Others nail horseshoes right-side-up in doorways so their luck doesn’t run out. It’s institutional: Some tracks skip the number 13 when numbering their barns. No horse whatsoever will be found in barn 13 at one of the country’s most venerable tracks — Kentucky’s Keeneland. There wasn’t one at Arlington Park when I worked there either — I actually went looking for it, to make sure. (One trainer takes this to extremes.)