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Favorites face potential upsetters at Belmont and Epsom Downs

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer   |   June 5, 2014 at 10:54 AM   |   Comments

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Saturday's two big races have strong favorites in California Chrome and Australia but there's also no shortage of 3-year-olds looking to spring upsets.

California Chrome will try to become the first American Triple Crown winner in 36 years by adding the Belmont Stakes to his earlier wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Australia seeks to add his name to a centuries-long list of winners of the Epsom Derby.

At Belmont Park, California Chrome jogged Monday without incident and continues to look the part of a Triple Crown winner -- happy and eager to strut his stuff. Another challenger was added Monday to the Belmont Stakes roster as trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed Matterhorn for the 1 1/2-mile race. Matterhorn, a Tapit colt, most recently finished fourth in the Grade II Peter Pan over the Belmont track.

"I thought he ran okay in the Peter Pan and made a pretty good middle move," Pletcher said. "I was encouraged by the way he galloped out afterward that a mile and a half would be in his wheelhouse."

Commanding Curve, Ride On Curlin, Wicked Strong, Tonalist and Commissioner all are among the likely rivals for Saturday's race.

In England, Romsdal was supplemented to Saturday's Investec Derby at a cost of 75,000 pounds sterling. The colt, trained by John Gosden for owner Princess Haya of Jordan, finished second to Orchestra in the Chester Vase. Orchestra is a stablemate of Derby favorite Australia, who continues to attract support while coming off a third-place finish in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas.

After Monday's five-day confirmation stage, as many as 17 colts could face the starter for the Derby.

Both the Belmont and the Derby have sparkling undercards. Notable among them, at Epsom, last year's Derby winner, Ruler of the World, will try to slow down the express train that is Cirrus Des Aigles -- the ageless French world traveler -- in the Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup (In memory of St Nicholas Abbey).

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