By Lesley Van Arsdall
BENSALEM, Pa. (CBS) – Saturday’s Belmont Stakes evokes memories of a Philadelphia horse who made a bid for the Triple Crown, one decade ago.
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since Smarty Jones was poised to become horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner since 1978. His trainer, John Servis, remembers it like it was yesterday:
“The city of Philadelphia was crazy. You couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing people talking about it. So there was a lot of pressure going into the Belmont.”
And now the pressure’s on California Chrome. At a mile and a half, the Belmont is longer than he was ever raced.
“He’s had a grueling campaign,” says Servis. “He’s had horses that haven’t run since the Derby that are fresh and competing against him. I knew going in that you have a bull’s-eye on your back. That’s just horse racing.”
Both chestnut colts were doubted because of where their careers began, and the fact that they were not from large operations only added to their popularity.
“I’m rooting for him,” Servis says. “I really am.”