GREENFIELD TOWNSHIP — This weekend, California Chrome has a chance to do what no horse has done in more than 30 years.
A win at the Belmont Stakes would mean the Triple Crown.
Another horse in Lackawanna County has its own claim to horse-racing fame as the son of that last horse to win the Triple Crown: Affirmed.
With a little help, Preston Cosklo gets in the saddle at Painted Acres horse farm near Mayfield. Preston is not just any boy and Verify is not just any horse. Together, the horse riding therapy helps the 10-year-old with cerebral palsy build up his strength.
“It introduces them to physical therapy that isn’t really physical therapy. It’s fun for him, he’s having a blast riding the horse,” said Sarah Russoniello with Serendipity Therapeutic Riding Program.
By riding Verify, Preston and others are getting close to horse-racing greatness. Lori Bilinsky adopted the thoroughbred more than a decade ago.
“He’s kind and calm, a gentle way about him, everyone who’s come in contact with him has fallen in love with him,” said Bilinsky.
This weekend, another beloved horse has the chance to do what no other horse has done since 1978. If California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes, he’ll be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed.
According to paperwork, Verify has a very famous father, especially now that another racehorse is poised to unseat Affirmed.
“To us, verify is special to us either way. It wasn’t until California Chrome took the first two races that we really started talking about it around the farm,” said Russoniello.
At 22, Verify is still very much a living legacy of his bloodline. Perhaps not with jockeys on his back but with kids who get to feel like winners.
“He makes people smile every day that matters more to us than any race,” added Russoniello.