Billy Turner, who trained Seattle Slew through a sweep of the 1977 Triple Crown, briefly handicapped this year's Belmont Stakes this morning outside his barn.
“I think it's going to be a great race, I really do,” said Turner, currently the only living trainer who has won the Triple Crown. “California Chrome is the outstanding horse of the crop. The only question you have is, will he get the mile and a half? He certainly appears to be the best of the 3-year-old crop, no question, but a mile and a half can be a little bit strange and we have a few horses in there who will get the mile and a half. Tonalist was very impressive in the Peter Pan and Wicked Strong has been training like a monster of a horse, and [Wicked Strong] is bred to run that far.”
Turner, who will be in attendance at Belmont Park when California Chrome attempts to become the 12th Triple Crown winner, discussed the importance of pace in the Belmont Stakes, saying Seattle Slew had the race locked up when he led through three-quarters in 1:14.
“The strategy of the riders is going to be very, very interesting,” said Turner. “I wouldn't be surprised to see California Chrome running third or fourth the first part of the race. Then the question is, how fast do they run three-quarters? That will tell an awful lot.”
Turner reflected on how he changed his training tactics to help Seattle Slew negotiate 1 ½ miles in the Belmont Stakes.
“I had taken the fastest horse in the world,” said Turner, “and I drilled him to take the speed away from him for the Belmont because I didn't want him to go three-quarters of a mile in 1:09 and change and expect him to get the mile and a half.”
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