06/04/2014 11:19AM

California Chrome draws post 2 for Belmont Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
California Chrome will be heavily favored to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

ELMONT, N.Y. - California Chrome’s final quest for the Triple Crown will begin from post 2, and the colt was installed as the heavy favorite against a relatively sizable field when the post positions were drawn and morning line established for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, to be contested Saturday.

California Chrome, seeking to become the 12th Triple Crown winner, and first since Affirmed in 1978, is the 3-5 morning line favorite in the field of 11 entered Wednesday morning. The field assembled would be the largest Belmont group defeated by a Triple Crown winner; Citation (1948) and Seattle Slew (1977) each faced seven rivals.

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California Chrome has won six consecutive races by a combined margin of 29 1/2 lengths. He prevailed in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with confident early handling from jockey Victor Espinoza, who secured solid position early from post 6 and post 3, respectively. Espinoza will need to turn in a similar performance here with California Chrome down toward the inside of the gate.

Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong, fourth in the Kentucky Derby, landed in post 9 and is the 6-1 second choice on the morning line. Tonalist, winner of the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont, is the third choice at 8-1.

California Chrome, Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin in post 5, and General a Rod, who drew post 10, will be the only horses to start in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

The Belmont, with a post time of 6:52 p.m. Eastern, anchors a blockbuster 13-race card that includes nine other stakes, five of those Grade 1. The Belmont will be televised on an NBC broadcast beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Belmont Stakes
Purse: $1.5 million; 1 1/2 miles; Grade 1
1. Medal Count, R. Albarado, 20-1
2. California Chrome, V. Espinoza, 3-5
3. Matterhorn, J. Bravo, 30-1
4. Commanding Curve, S. Bridgmohan, 15-1
5. Ride On Curlin, J. Velazquez, 12-1
6. Matuszak, M. Smith, 30-1
7. Samraat, J. Ortiz, 20-1
8. Commissioner, J. Castellano, 20-1
9. Wicked Strong, R. Maragh, 6-1
10. General a Rod, R. Napravnik, 20-1
11. Tonalist, J. Rosario, 8-1
Track odds
All starters to carry 126 pounds