LET'S MEET THE 2015 BELMONT STAKES PROBABLES
By Noel Michaels
The Kentucky Derby and Preakness are in the books, and now New York's Belmont Park becomes the center of the American racing universe with the running of the Belmont Stakes, upcoming on Saturday, June 6. This is especially true in years when there is a Triple Crown on the line, as there is this year.
All eyes in the horseracing world will be on American Pharoah, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, who will be trying to become the first winner of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown in 37 years. Will American Pharoah succeed where so many others have failed, including California Chrome last season? Will he become Thoroughbred racing's 12th Triple Crown winner? Or will he go down to defeat trying to accomplish one of the rarest and most difficult feats in all of sports?
In the Belmont Stakes, in terms of the odds, it goes without saying that favorites have done poorly in the third jewel of the Triple Crown. After all, no horse since 1978 has swept the Triple Crown, with 12 horses during that stretch losing their historic bids in the Belmont Stakes. The 11 horses since 1979 to lose the Belmont in their bid for the Triple Crown were Spectacular Bid (1979), Pleasant Colony (1981), Alysheba (1987), Sunday Silence (1989), Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Charismatic (1999), War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004), and most recently Big Brown in 2008, and California Chrome in 2014. In 2012, a thirteenth horse, I'll Have Another, swept the Derby and Preakness, but aborted a Belmont Stakes attempt when scratching days before the race.
That list of 12 Belmont Stakes losers is an impressive bunch, but perhaps no horse among that dozen (with the possible exception of Spectacular Bid, who lost in large part to jockey error on the part of Ronny Franklin) has come up to the third jewel in racing's Triple Crown looking like as much of a forgone conclusion, and looking quite so invincible as Big Brown did in 2008. Big Brown, even more than any of the others, proved that no matter how good a horse looks heading into "The Test of the Champion," he can always lose the Belmont Stakes to a much less-heralded challenger.
Other Triple Crown aspirants have come into the Belmont Stakes undefeated before suffering their first loss (Smarty Jones, for example), but none lost with as much flair as Big Brown, who failed to even finish the race, going down in flames at odds of 30 cents on the dollar.
What this means, is that no matter how good a favorite looks in the Belmont Stakes, it may still be worthwhile - and profitable - to throw all sentiment aside to take a shot at beating the favorite. After all, based on what we've seen these past 37 years, the odds will be strongly against American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown. Why then would a handicapper bet on him at horrifically low odds in the neighborhood of 3-5?
Of all the factors that are likely to derail the Triple Crown hopeful, the biggest hurdle of all appears to be the three races in five weeks that all Triple Crown aspirants must overcome. The Triple Crown hopefuls always face a field comprised of fresher horses. Who can forget the ignorant no-class post-race meltdown of California Chrome's owner after he lost the Belmont Stakes in 2014? In buffoon-like fashion, he called Belmont winner Tonalist's connections cowards for waiting for the Belmont and not running in all three races. The fact is, however, that new challengers and fresh horses always have and still do show-up for the Belmont in order to face a horse that has become run down from the first two legs of the Triple Crown. That is a big part of the reason the feat hasn't been accomplished in 37 years, and why it may not be accomplished again this year despite American Pharoah's clear superiority.
The fact that fresher hopefuls can gain an advantage my meeting a run-down horse making his third demanding start in the span of five weeks is part of the challenge that all Triple Crown hopefuls face. It is that, combined with the Belmont's demanding distance of 1.5-miles, which undoubtedly is the number one factor that has led to most Triple Crown disappointments dating back to the late 1970s. Some of the notable recent Triple Crown losers, included Charismatic (Lemon Drop Kid), Funny Cide (Empire Maker), and Smarty Jones (Birdstone), and California Chrome (Tonalist). They all lost to fresher horses.
If American Pharoah becomes the latest Triple Crown hopeful to fall short in the Belmont, he will lose for the same reason they all lose: He will be worn down and depleted from his Derby and Preakness efforts and unable to bring a third world-class effort in five weeks when in against fresher horses that are more able to go the testing 1.5-mile distance on that particular Saturday at Belmont.
This year, American Pharoah will be the only horse in the Belmont Stakes that will be running in all three legs of the Triple Crown - placing him at an immediate disadvantage even before the gates open at Belmont Park on June 6.
And so, let's meet the prospective field pointing to the 2015 Belmont Stakes, which began to take shape immediately following the finish of the Preakness Stakes.
The runners-up to American Pharoah in the Derby - Firing Line and Dortmund - will both not be present in the Belmont. However, Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve will run in the Belmont, as well as several Kentucky Derby also-rans with excuses who skipped the Preakness in order to point directly to the Belmont Stakes, including most notably fourth-place finisher Frosted and sixth-place finisher Materiality.
There will also be several other live upsetters lining up for their chance to play spoiler, including Carpe Diem, who drew the No. 2-hole death post in the Derby. Also pointing for the Belmont are the first- and second-place finishers from the local prep race, the Peter Pan Stakes, Madefromlucky and Conquest Curlinite. Last year's Belmont winner Tonliast used the Peter Pan as his springboard to a 2014 Belmont Stakes upset.
Clearly, American Pharoah is scaring away nobody. The Belmont is expecting a nearly full field.
BELMONT STAKES PROBABLES 2015
Besides the Peter Pan, which yielded 2014 winner Tonalist and will be represented this year by first- and second-place finishers from the local prep, Madefromlucky and Conquest Curlinite, most of the rest of the field will be composed of horses than ran in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness to point for the Belmont. This route has been successful in winning the Belmont a lot in recent years, including most recently in 2013 with Palace Malace.
Ladies and gents, let's meet the 2015 Belmont Stakes contenders and take a closer look at the field:
AMERICAN PHAROAH (Won Kentucky Derby and Preakness)
TALE OF VERVE (2nd in the Preakness)
MATERIALITY (6th in Kentucky Derby)
CARPE DIEM (10th in Kentucky Derby)
FROSTED (4th in Kentucky Derby)
KEEN ICE (7th in Kentucky Derby)
MUBTAAHIJ (8th in Kentucky Derby)
FRAMMENTO (11th in Kentucky Derby)
WAR STORY (16th in Kentucky Derby)
MADEFROMLUCKY (Won Peter Pan)
CONQUEST CURLINITE (2nd in Peter Pan)
THIS IS NOT A GAMBLING SITE
All the information provided herein is for news and entertainment purposes only.
Use of this information in violation of State, Federal, or Local laws is strictly prohibited.
The information contained on this web site is for viewing by all audiences, however,
you must be 18 years of age or older to purchase any products and services sold here.
All Sales are final, No refunds will be given under any circumstances. Exchanges only.
Copyright © 2006 - 2015 OTB Learning Labs, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED