Racing fan Tanaka rooting for California Chrome

Racing fan Tanaka rooting for California Chrome

NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka is something of a horse racing enthusiast in his free time, and while the right-hander is focused on Thursday's start against the Athletics, he is planning to clear some time in his schedule for the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

Tanaka said that he will be cheering for California Chrome, who is attempting to become the 12th Triple Crown champion overall and the first since Affirmed in 1978.

"Obviously California Chrome had a good two races," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "You rarely see a Triple Crown, so definitely I'm rooting for him to win the race."

California Chrome jockey Victor Espinoza and assistant trainer Alan Sherman each threw out ceremonial first pitches at Yankee Stadium before Monday's game against the Mariners. Tanaka said that he did not have the opportunity to meet them, but he is looking forward to watching their bid for history.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.