RENO, NV - The story of California Chrome has created a buzz all over the country. On Saturday he could become the first triple crown winner since 1978,
"I remember as a 19-year-old the last triple crown winner, Affirmed," Mike Weaver of Manteca, Calif. said. "All three races were really close and it was really exciting and interesting. I think California Chrome has captured that kind of excitement that was generated and it's probably good for horse racing now to have that interest."
On Friday area race and sports books were busier than normal. Reno resident Roger Pelish was placing his bets at the Atlantis.
"I've been playing, wagering on horseracing since 1959 and I'm also a racehorse owner," Pelish said. "And this scenario is totally unbelievable in our industry. This is completely unprecedented. You could put this kind of breeding together the rest of your life and you'd never get a horse like this."
The excitement of a possible Triple Crown winner with local ties is getting a lot of new customers into the race and sports books as well.
"We don't mind the novice coming in and saying, 'I don't normally bet on horses but I want to be part of this,' that's the fun of it and that's what this is all about," Peppermill Director of Race and Sports Terry Cox said. "The whole story of this horse, it's a great success story and it couldn't happen to nicer people"
Most casinos are expecting good-sized crowds for the Belmont Stakes.
"I suggest you come down, have fun and bet on the horse you want to win," Atlantis Race and Sports Book Manager Steve Mikkelson said. "If you take California Chrome to win you're not going to win very much money, but if he wins you're going to be a part of it, remember it for a lifetime, so come on down and just enjoy the race."
A lot of people here are hoping for a California Chrome win.
"I am rooting for him I've used him on some of my wagers," Pelish said. "But if he doesn't win I can also win with the other horses I'm playing. This is going to be a much tougher race than the Preakness so he's going to really have to earn this."
And a chance to be part of history.
"There's a story here that's very compelling and its great for the sport, great for Reno, great for Nevada and we're all kind of rooting that we see history made," Cox said.
And it's not just a local phenomenon.
"I think the whole country wants to see him win," Weaver said. "I think it'll be good for horse racing if he does win so I'm in his corner, I'm a Chromie!"