Last major track workout for California Chrome before Triple Crown tilt


California Chrome has completed his last major workout in front of clockers and journalists at Belmont Park as he begins his final preparations for a tilt at Triple Crown glory.

The champion horse, with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes under his belt, is less than a week away from his attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown winner.

To do so, he was must claim the $US1.5 million Belmont Stakes over one and a half miles on the New York track.

California Chrome looked comfortable on the Belmont track, known as Big Sandy.

His mission will not be easy. He is certain to enter the race as favorite – and no favorite has won the grueling race since 1995.

Statistics show that five of the last six winners have been at odds of 11-1 or higher – and no horse has ever won the Triple Crown against such a large field, with 11 starters expected for the big race.

California Chrome was impressive in his final workout, with regular jockey Victor Espinoza in the saddle.

About 300 fans joined journalists, photographers and clockers to watch the early-morning run.

The horse emerged from Barn 26 and headed for the track, where he ran through a half-mile in 47.69 seconds and covered five furlongs in 59.93 before finishing out in 1:12.95. He was credited with a double gallop-out in 1:26.28 by official clockers, on a track rated as fast.

He earned a cheer from the crowd as he completed his workout, still full of running.

The chestnut colt returned to his barn for a washdown, but not before stopping to allow a group of photographers to take pictures.

Espinoza told reporters: “He’s a little stronger, has a little more weight on than the last time I saw him.

“This morning it was just easy for him. It was nice for him to be able to stretch his legs and get some air in his lungs. He’s ready for Saturday.”

California Chrome faces an easy week in the buildup to Saturday’s race, with walking, jogging and easy gallops forming part of the schedule.

A win on Saturday would see California Chrome become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

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