California Chrome drew the No. 2 post position Wednesday for Saturday's 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, and the connections of the Triple Crown contender saw no problem with that.
"I think, going a good mile and a half, it's a good position," said Alan Sherman, the main assistant to his father, trainer Art Sherman.
"I think it's going to be a jockey's race, anyhow. It gives you a chance to see who's going to have the speed and where you land going into the first turn."
The jockey, veteran Victor Espinoza, added, "I like No. 2. Hopefully, it's my lucky number."
California Chrome, the dominant winner of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, will face 10 horses and will carry 3-5 morning-line odds. Only two others were even placed in the single-digit odds category. Wicked Strong is the second choice at 6-1 and Tonalist third at 8-1.
The Belmont will have a post time of 3:52 p.m. PDT and will be carried on NBC. Its purse is $1.5 million, with the winner getting $800,000.
Belmont Park and the New York Racing Assn. will offer a total of $6.25 million in Grade I purses on a Saturday meant to boost the relevancy of Belmont Stakes day.
California Chrome's bid for a Triple Crown would take care of most of that. But on Belmont Stakes years when there is no Triple Crown contender, the day needs a boost in interest.
Included in the six Grade I races are the Belmont, the $1-million Ogden Phipps, the $1.25-million Metropolitan and the $1-million Knob Creek Manhattan.
If California Chrome dominates in the Belmont, the most competitive race of the day could be the Phipps, in which female stars Beholder, Princess of Sylmar and Close Hatches face off. Hall of Famer Richard Mandella of Southern California trains Beholder and said Wednesday he was both excited and nervous.
Last year's Belmont winner, Palace Malice, is the favorite in the Metropolitan. Among those running against him will be Bob Baffert's Shakin It Up and Doug O'Neill's Goldencents.
Date with destiny?
Art Sherman, at this point battling interview fatigue, was asked if he thought his California Chrome was a "horse of destiny."
Sherman, a model of patience, replied, "I'll tell you Saturday."
Trophy takes a trip
The bearer of the Triple Crown trophy, which stays on display at the Kentucky Derby Museum, is Chuchill Downs' public relations executive, Darren Rogers.
In years when the Triple Crown is in play, Rogers gets on a plane to New York with the trophy. The idea of checking it with other baggage has long ago been rejected.
"The plane wasn't full this year," Rodgers said Wednesday, "so the trophy got its own seat. But they had to use a seat-belt extender."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times