OUR VIEW

Our View: We’re hoping that California Chrome shines today in Belmont Stakes

June 6, 2014 

Not that we don’t have a lot of choices for fun this weekend, but you want to get out of the heat and close to a television set around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. That’s when California Chrome runs to win the final leg of the Triple Crown. How this horse burst on the national scene is one of the most amazing sports stories of the decade, maybe even the last four decades. That’s because it’s been 36 years since Affirmed became the last Triple Crown winner by winning the Belmont Stakes.

By now we’re all familiar with the two decidedly middle-class families from our Central Valley who paid $6,500 for the mare and a mere $2,500 for breeding rights to a stallion standing at Harris Ranch (yes, they have more than just cows). Among Kentucky’s blue-blood breeders, $2,500 is tip money.

There are hundreds of things that could go wrong for Chrome. The Belmont is the longest of the Triple Crown races (1.5 miles), the 10 other horses have a mix of early speed and endurance that might work against Chrome, and three weeks isn’t enough recovery time for today’s 3-year-olds. All that said, we still like California Chrome’s chances. Just say the heat is on in Elmont, N.Y., just as much as it will be at 3:30 around here. So find a cool spot and cheer on our Valley horse.

Taming Orestimba Creek, finally

We were glad to see that Rep. Jeff Denham has gotten us almost to the goal line in the decades-long push to control the deadly floods on Orestimba Creek. We’ll be even happier Tuesday when President Barack Obama signs the bill that contains authorization for $23 million for the $45 million project. Denham got the project into an infrastructure bill that was approved by both the House and Senate; then he was able to keep it in the final version. Denham said controlling Orestimba Creek has been one of his priorities since he was in the state Senate: “I’m pleased to see the years of effort pay off.” We are, too.

Orestimba Creek can go from a trickle to a torrent on a moment’s notice, growing 28 times its size in 90 minutes. Once it jumps its banks, it can spread out over Orestimba Road and then sweep into Newman. It’s done that 12 times since 1932. Before Denham, Rep. Dennis Cardoza worked for a remedy and before him Gary Condit. But Denham carried it home. The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a series of levees and berms to channel the water away from Newman.

We’re less enthusiastic about Denham’s plan – announced Friday – to prohibit federal funds for high-speed rail from coming to California. Republicans like to call it “the crazy train,” and while that’s a great sound bite, it would be crazier to keep money – and jobs – out of the Valley. If the train becomes reality, it will benefit the Valley faster than any other region. While we’re skeptical of backers’ ridership claims, we’d like to see some jobs arriving by rail. We’re not happy when someone tries to derail jobs.

Vintage cars need vintage plates

You wouldn’t put modern furnishings from, say, Ikea in the McHenry Mansion. It would look out of place, just like having one of today’s license plates on a Classic Car like those cruising our streets this weekend. The DMV is preparing to resume issuing the yellow-on-black plates used in the 1960s, along with the black-on-yellow from the ’50s and the yellow-on-blue plates from the ’70s. A bill passed in 2012 authorized the DMV to proceed once it got 7,500 applications for the reproductions. No problem. They cost $50. Go to http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/forms/reg/reg17L.pdf.

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