Top Belmont Stakes 2014 Contenders to Face California Chrome

Take a look at the horses that have the potential to beat Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome. These strong competitors will face off in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 7 at Belmont Park.

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California Chrome, ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, wins the 139th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 17, 2014, in Baltimore.
If California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes, he would be the first to win the coveted and elusive title since Affirmed in 1978. California Chrome is also known in the horse racing circuit as a "freak of nature." That's how trainer Bob Baffert referred to the Kentucky Derby winner following his win in the Preakness Stakes. The thrilling races have primed the California colt for a shot at capturing horse-racing's elusive Triple Crown. Click to meet his top contenders. "He's training super, so we're giving him another chance at the Chrome," said Dale Romans, who conceded after the Derby that California Chrome was a special horse.
Belmont hopeful Commanding Curve came in second to California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby. After the loss Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, announced in a letter to partners that they would skip the Preakness to focus on Belmonst Stakes. Finley cited the quick turnaround and the Preakness' shorter 1 3/8-mile distance as reasons to skip the second leg of the Triple Crown. Commanding Curve's deep-closer running style will be better suited for the 1 1/2 Belmont, Finley said.
Ride on Curlin (Left) finished 2nd in the Preakness to California Chrome in a 1-1/2-length defeat. Hall of Famer John Velazquez will be aboard the Preakness runner-up in the Belmont Stakes. Velazquez has won the Belmont twice, most recently in 2012.
AP Photo/Chelsea Durand
Wicked Strong, with Rajiv Maragh aboard, recently captured a first place finish at The Wood Memorial Stakes horse race at Aqueduct Race Track in April. The colt beat out strong contender Samraat to win a breakthrough victory. Can he do it again? Fun fact, Wicked Strong is named in honor of the victims and heroes of last year's Boston Marathon bombing.
AP Photo/Chelsea Durand
Despite his fifth-place standing at the Ketucky Derby Samraat is a consistently strong horse and currently has five 1st place finishes in his last 7 races.
Multiple stakes winner Kid Cruz ranked eighth in the second leg of the Triple Crown. If his co-owners, Steve Brandt and Ric Boylan win the Belmont Stakes they will be the first openly gay owners of the winner of a Triple Crown race. They are likely to celebrate the prize with a nationally televised kiss as they had hoped for with the Preakness. œ"I might kiss him,"€ Brandt said about his husband, Boylan, to USA Today prior to Kid Cruz running in the Preakness. "€œThe cameras will be there and we'll have our own Michael Sam moment. One can only hope."
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Not pictured but sure to be a major threat to California Chrome is Tonalist who won a four-length victory in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes on May 10. The Peter Pan is a traditional prep for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, It could likely be the next big win for Tonalist.
Medal Count, was eighth in the Kentucky Derby, and has joined the cast for the June 7 Belmont Stakes. "He's training super, so we're giving him another chance at the Chrome," said Dale Romans, who conceded after the Derby that California Chrome was a special horse.
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