Rick Samuels

Great Weather, Crowd Expected for Belmont

Trainer Gary Contessa said he had never seen crowd line up this early in 35 years.

As the sunrise broke through at Belmont Park at 5:30 a.m. on Belmont Stakes Day June 7, California Chrome  was one of the first horses on the track as he went through a light jog under the watchful eye of trainer Art Sherman.

About 13 hours later Saturday, the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit will seek to become the 12th winner of the coveted Triple Crown and the first to complete the sweep since Affirmed in 1978.

Chrome's visit to the track June 7 was routine, with the entourage of media and fans that have been accompanying him all week considerably smaller.

It was very quiet on the backside early as other Belmont contenders also went to the track before the early closing time for workouts.

With the lure of a possible Triple Crown and the perfect weather, a long line of cars formed outside the Elmont, N.Y., track awaiting the gates to open at 8 a.m.

"I have been here 35 years and never have I seen miles of cars waiting to get in at 8 a.m.," trainer Gary Contessa tweeted. "This is a beautiful sight! Go Chrome!"

Alex Sosnowski, an expert senior meteorologist with AcuWeather.com, wrote on the company's website the weather will be similar to racing conditions for Chrome's victories in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), though it will be warmer.

AcuWeather is forecasting plenty of sunshine, low humidity, with race time temperatures in the upper 70s and with light wind.

Temperatures peaked in the lower 70s in Louisville, Ky., on Derby Day May 3, and in the upper 60s at Baltimore, Md., May 17 for the Preakness

The weather was partly sunny, hot and humid with scattered thunderstorms on the day Secretariat won the Belmont June 9, 1973, according to AcuWeather, with temperatures peaking near 90 F.

Seattle Slew won on June 11, 1977, with temperatures near average in the mid-70s, low humidity and cloudy intervals. On June 10, 1978, temperatures peaked near 80 F with low humidity and bright sunshine for Affirmed's Belmont win.