There is a rule for sports media people that they should never cheer in the press box when they are covering an event.
But it will be tough to hold back the excitement at the Belmont Stakes today if California Chrome does something that hasn’t been done in 36 years — win horse racing’s Triple Crown.
NBC’s coverage of the Belmont Stakes begins with the undercard at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN. NBC picks up the broadcast at 4:30. That can be seen in the Capital Region on WNYT (Ch. 13).
Affirmed was the last horse to win the Triple Crown in 1978. Since then, 12 horses have failed to do it. The last time a horse had a chance, I’ll Have Another was scratched a couple of days before the 2012 Belmont Stakes.
Tom Hammond, who will co-host the broadcast, would like to see one more Triple Crown winner before he hangs up the headset.
“I think that because of this horse and his magnetism, because of his actions and because of all of the stories that go along with this horse, I think it’s going to be a huge event,” Hammond said during a conference call this week. “I can remember when Smarty Jones went after the Triple Crown. It was like America stopped to see if we would have a Triple Crown winner. Partly because of the catchy name or either because of his connections, which weren’t normally Triple Crown players. And I think this one will be even bigger than that because of the story of California Chrome. Because he is flashy looking and because of the social media, it’s going to make this an even bigger event than it was with Smarty Jones. So I’m really looking forward to it.
“And while we won’t be rooting, I would like in the rest of my lifetime at least to see a Triple Crown winner if we could and to cover one would be great.”
As a jockey, Jerry Bailey stopped Funny Cide’s bid to win the Triple Crown in 2003 when he rode Empire Maker to victory.
Now, as an analyst for NBC, Bailey wants to see history made.
“From this side of the fence, I have the interest of what’s best for the sport,” Bailey said “To see it would be wonderful.”
California Chrome drew the second post position In Wednesday’s draw. Hammond doesn’t believe the two hole will be a problem.
“I think one of the great assets that California Chrome has is an unusual ability to stop and start,” Hammond said. “Those other horses are one-run, either early or late. But he has the ability, apparently, to give you a little bit of first-to-speed when you need it and to relax when you don’t. And I think that’s a tremendous.”
WGY-AM (810) and WGY-FM (103.1) will have radio coverage of the race starting at 5 p.m.