WASHINGTON — April showers bring May flowers. And May? May brings the start of the Triple Crown season — horse racing’s premier series of the entire year.
It’s been a long time since America has witnessed the thrill of a Triple Crown Winner. To be exact — 36 years.
The past 12 years have featured Smarty Jones, Big Brown, Funny Cide, War Emblem and I’ll Have Another — who all won two of the three coveted races just to fall short in Long Island at the Belmont Stakes.
The quest for the first winner since Affirmed in 1978 begins Saturday evening in the 140th running of the fastest two minutes in sports: The Kentucky Derby.
Will this be the year we can see a real run at glory?
Here’s how I see it playing out at Churchill Downs:
Win: California Chrome
Nothing sexy about this pick, as he is the star of the Derby and as of Friday afternoon is the 2-1 favorite to emerge victorious.
The colt won his last four races handily. In fact, no horse has been within five lengths when California Chrome crossed the finish line in any of those races.
In the Santa Anita Derby on April 5, his final time of 1:47 2/5 was the fastest of all the derby prep times. He has excellent form on dirt and his jockey, Victor Espinoza, won the Derby and Preakness on War Emblem in 2002.
California Chrome convincingly dominated the competition in the past and has a real shot of making a run at the coveted Triple Crown.
Place: Intense Holiday
While the track record hasn’t exactly been there for Intense Holiday (lost the Louisiana Derby by 3