So now it’s on to the Belmont Stakes June 7 and a shot at the Triple Crown, and you think, We’ve been here before, most recently with I’ll Have Another. We get all excited and then we’re let down, so when a new champ comes along, we hedge our bets with Why-he’ll-win, why-he-won’t articles.
But I’m a born optimist, one who’s not afraid to go out on a limb. I believed right from the get-go that California Chrome will do what no horse has done since Affirmed in 1978. He has the speed and endurance, the smarts and the heart. And, contrary to what people think who’ve misinterpreted his rags-to-riches story, he has an excellent pedigree, with Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Native Dancer among his ancestors. His owners’ origins may be humble, but there’s nothing humble about Chrome’s bloodlines. And blood will out.
In “Criterion,” the planned third novel in my series “The Games Men Play,” the title racehorse is not only aware of his illustrious pedigree, he prays to his ancestors that he will be worthy of it. (The book is told partly from Criterion’s viewpoint.)
We are, to paraphrase Tennyson’s Ulysses, the product of all that we have met. Criterion keeps faith with his family on his way to his date with destiny.
I have a feeling Chrome will do the same.