The first two legs of the Triple Crown Series are behind us and we are on the verge of what could be a historical afternoon at the 2014 Belmont Stakes. After victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, California Chrome will be entering the starting gate with a chance at racing immortality. It appears that 10 challengers and a mile and a half separate California Chrome from the likes of Affirmed, Secretariat, and Sir Barton. Will he finish the marathon that is the Belmont Stakes on top? One thing is for sure, horse like Commanding Curve (second in the Kentucky Derby) and Ride on Curlin (second in the Preakness) will be in the starting gate with a real belief that they can spoil the party.
Race: 146th Belmont Stakes (Grade 1)
Location: Belmont Racetrack
Distance: 1 1/2 miles
Purse: $1.5 million
Post Time: 6:52 PM EST
There is no doubt that California Chrome will enter the starting gate as the betting favorite for the 2014 Belmont Stakes. A price in the neighborhood of the 3-5 that was seen in the Preakness Stakes should be expected. With that being said, it not a guarantee that California Chrome will cross the line in first. There is a reason that no horse has won the Triple Crown since 1978. In the last 36 years a few have tried but all have fallen short for one reason or another. Who is the “wise guy” horse? Will California Chrome get the distance? How will the added rest help a horse like Commanding Curve? There are always more questions than answers.
Below is a simple breakdown of each horse that is slated to enter the starting gate this Saturday. What you will see is not a complete stat sheet for each horse since you can get that from Daily Racing Form or Equibase. Instead it is my evaluation summed up to help each of you make a decision when you walk to the window, the machine or click a mouse to make a wager on the 146th Belmont Stakes.
|1||20-1||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||To me he is better suited for turf or poly. Lost by 10 in the FOY. Second in the Bluegrass but that is polytrack. Checked but still finished 8th in the Derby but was a non-factor. I can't see it.|
|2||3-5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||At this point there is not much to be said. Winner of 6 straight and the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Could distance be an issue combined with recent workload? The heavy favorite.|
|3||30-1||Matterhorn||Joe Bravo||Cannot understand why Pletcher has him in this field. Never won after breaking maiden, look just bad in the Peter Pan. It would take a career effort, stars aligning and a gift from the gods. But heck, he is in the gate.|
|4||15-1||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Beaten five lengths at the Arkansas Derby but closed impressively to finish second at the Derby. The pedigree to route is there sired by Master Command. Question is whether it was one great race or a sign of things to come. Should be coming late.|
|5||12-1||Ride On Curlin||John Valazquez||Made up for a bad choice by Borel in the Derby by finishing a strong second in the Preakness Stakes. However, the rules have not changed. Still yet to win a stakes race and only one win in nine starts since breaking maiden. Likes to hit the board though. Will be over bet again.|
|6||30-1||Matuszak||Mike Smith||Never won against higher than MSW. However, on the uptick with a third followed by second to Kid Cruz. Cruz getting crushed in Preakness does not help. He is working well if looking for the bomb it might be here with HOF Mike Smith.|
|7||20-1||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Five for seven lifetime but is on a two race losing streak against top competition. Did not embarrass in defeats at the Wood and Derby. Not my favorite but will give a square price and loves New York.|
|8||20-1||Commissioner||Javier Castellano||With A.P. Indy in the bloodlines he should be able to get the distance. Second in the G2 Peter Pan last to Tonalist. Catellano on the mount is a clear plus. Nothing special but if you believe in pedigree and value this is your choice.|
|9||6-1||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||Sentimental horse who closed impressively to win the Wood by over 3 lengths going away. Finished a respectable fourth in the Derby but honestly was not a factor. Returns to NY where he has seen his career success. A chance.|
|10||20-1||General a Rod||Rosie Napravnik||Second at the FOY and third at the Florida Derby and you had a sheik pick at the Derby. However, an 11th place finish then followed up by a fourth at the Preakness and the luster is gone. Reality is he needs a huge step forward and faltering by at least three in the field to have a shot. However, there is Rosie.|
|11||8-1||Tonalist||Joel Rosario||He will take the "wise guy" money this Saturday. The most lightly raced horse in the field with one stakes start which happened to be an impressive win at the Peter Pan here at this track. Stepping up but there is a Belmont winner in the bloodlines.|
Horses to Watch Heading to Post-Time: Samraat, Commissioner
Bomb to Watch: Matuszak
How do you bet a horse race?? What type of bankroll are you playing with? Is it about having a good time and being a part of the spectacle? Are you buying a ticket in the hopes of having a historical keepsake? Or is it about finding a way to make money? No matter what you want or the size of your bankroll there are different ways you can approach the Belmont Stakes. Just like I did in the Preakness article, below are my examples of how to play the Belmont Stakes from two schools of thought. Within each table you will see “I believe in Chrome” or “Looking for Value.” The design is to give two trains of thought. At the end I will tell you how I think it will go.