The big day is here and the race is fast approaching. That’s right, folks. It’s Belmont Stakes Saturday and we’ll soon know if California Chrome can become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 when Steve Cauthen raced Affirmed to three victories in the big three races.
If you’re near a television, tune into NBC for live coverage leading up to the race. If not, NBC is live-streaming the race on their site, which you can take a look at here. The post time for the headline race at Belmont Park in Long Island this evening is 6:52 p.m.ET.
We’ll have a running live blog below leading up to and following the race.
7:27 p.m. – Thanks for following along, folks! That’s all from this live blog.
7:17 p.m. – New York governor Andrew Cuomo is presenting the trophy to Tonalist owner Robert Evans. There is a combination of disappointing quietness and boos from the crowd. Evans, when asked by Bob Costas to respond to Coburn’s statement, said “no comment.”
7:06 p.m. – California Chrome owner Steve Coburn is pissed off. He called Tonalist’s win “the coward’s way out,” arguing that if you don’t make it into the Kentucky Derby, you shouldn’t be able to race at the Belmont. He was presumably implying that Tonalist’s fresh legs were an unfair advantage as he added that the only horses available for the Belmont field should be those who were in the field at the Derby and Preakness.
7:01 p.m. – Here’s the photo finish courtesy of Bleacher Report. You can see California Chrome with the jockey in the purple jacket atop him.
6:59 p.m. –Tonalist, a New York horse, did not race in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness Stakes.
6:57 p.m. –They’re four wide going into the home stretch! And… Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes with Commissioner coming in second!!! California Chrome finished in fifth place at Belmont Park and we once again do not have a Triple Crown winner.
6:56 p.m. –California Chrome is moving outside, in fifth as they enter the second turn.
6:55 p.m. –California Chrome is riding the rail early on, in third place through the first turn.
6:55 p.m. –And they’re off!!!
6:54 p.m. – They are entering the gates.
6:53 p.m. – The horses are warmed up and the 2014 Belmont Stakes will be kicking off shortly. Stay tuned.
6:51 p.m. – Game faces on. It’s just about post time at Belmont!
6:45 p.m. – Just getting my official prediction out of the way. Nobody cares and it doesn’t matter since I’m the farthest thing from a horse racing expert there is, but… I’m calling a Wicked Strong upset victory. Having said that, I am rooting for California Chrome and the Triple Crown.
6:43 p.m. – We are nearing the start of the 146th Belmont Stakes! The horses and jockeys are exiting the tunnel and coming out onto the Belmont Park track. California Chrome looks hyped as always.
6:38 p.m. – Riders up!
6:30 p.m. – NBC just announced its expert picks heading into the race. Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss, the most acclaimed of the group, picked Wicked Strong to take the Belmont. Donna Brothers, Kenny Rice, Laffit Pincay, Josh Elliott, and Carolyn Manno all took California Chrome, most citing posterity and their rooting interests as reasons for the pick.
6:27 p.m. – In other news, Eddie Olczyk, NHL on NBC broadcaster and horse racing expert, has predicted that Wicked Strong will pull ahead of California Chrome in the home stretch at the Belmont for the upset win.
6:25 p.m. – Less than half an hour until race time! Another Triple Crown fun fact… the last seven horses that were odds favorites to win the Triple Crown entering the Belmont have lost.
6:07 p.m. — We are 45 minutes away from post time at the Belmont Stakes! There are over 100,000 people in attendance at the track this evening.
5:44 p.m. — California Chrome is making the walk over to Belmont with an entourage of about 20 people. In the mean time, the Manhattan Stakes is set to start in just a few minutes on the undercard. Is it called the undercard or is that just a boxing thing? If it isn’t, I’m sticking by it regardless.
5:36 p.m. — NBC just played a compilation of celebrities wishing California Chrome good luck in the Belmont. The best, by far, came courtesy of Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrera:
“Hopefully you win the Triple Crown. I win it two years ago, so let’s do it!”
5:32 p.m. — For those of you interested in Triple Crown history, the closest so-called “Near Miss” in the history of the Triple Crown came in 1998. Real Quiet took the first two races and in the third leg of the Crown, jockey Kent Desormeaux made an early move to take the lead position in the Belmont. Down the home stretch, Victory Gallop made a push for the lead. The race ended with the closest Triple Crown bid in history and a photo finish.
The live call, which is sports broadcasting perfection, was as follows: “Victory Gallop with a final surge! It’s going to be very close! Here’s the wire! … It’s too close to call! Was it Real Quiet or was it Victory Gallop? A picture is worth a thousand words! This photo is worth five million dollars!”
Watch what many call the best Belmont Stakes ever here.
5:24 p.m. – As an addition to that fun fact, seven horses have won the Belmont and one of the other two races since the last Triple Crown winner in 1978.
5:21 p.m. — Fun Fact: Since 1978, a total of 12 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before losing the Triple Crown bid at Belmont. Four of those horses came in second place at Belmont. Most recently, I’ll Have Another did not race in the Belmont due to an injurt in 2012.
5:05 p.m. — Welcome to our live coverage of today’s big race! California Chrome opened as a 3/5 favorite this morning and has stuck at that number with just shy of two hours until the race kicks off. Wicked Strong comes in at second in the odds at 6/2 followed by Tonalist at 8/1.
Photo via ABC News