Belmont stiffs and contenders
What would a Triple Crown win for California Chrome do for the sport of horse racing and for America?
Well, it would put everybody in a pretty good mood for about 45 minutes, maybe longer.
Everybody could stand a hero, especially since he can't talk.
To win the Triple Crown, C-Chrome will have to defeat four halfway decent horses and six stiffs at the puzzling distance of a mile and a half.
If you think C-Chrome looked a little ragged at the end of the Preakness, imagine what a mile-and-a-half race could do to anybody going in a little tired.
To honor C-Chrome's fantastic achievements so far and to get in the right frame of mind for the big race, I just jogged a mile and a half after laying out the approximate scope and angles of the Belmont Park course in my neighborhood; if you could call that jogging. I carried nothing on my back or in my pockets outside of a phone number to call in case of emergencies.
A mile and a half is farther than you might think, much farther. It turns out it is exactly how far I routinely drive for groceries.
Here's what happened.
Going around what amounted to the first turn, I was moving so slowly, a dog approached and was able to sniff all around my feet and legs before deciding I posed no threat to anything he cared about. Going down what made do for the back stretch, a mail carrier and somebody in a truck asked if I was all right. Turning for home, which was still way, way down there, I drifted toward a water sprinkler. At the finish line I was almost running parallel to it toward the shade.
The Belmont field inside out
1. Medal Count (20-1): Still dirt poor.
2. California Chrome (3-5): Was 30-something-to-1 on future book.
3. Matterhorn (30-1): Belmont filler.
4. Commanding Curve (15-1): Caboose.
5. Ride On Curlin (12-1): Belmont is his second race after jockey Calvin Borel's bad Derby trip.
6. Matuszak (30-1): Lost seven in a row.
7. Samraat (20-1): A New York homer with speed.
8. Commissioner (20-1): Is in it for the parking spot.
9. Wicked Strong (6-1): Will be the trendy pick this week.
10. General a Rod (20-1): He has guts.
11. Tonalist (8-1): Beat six in slop.
Belmont Stakes picks
1. Ride On Curlin
2. California Chrome
3. Wicked Strong
4. Commanding Curve