The Belmont Stakes traditionally features a field of around a dozen horses or so, especially when there is a prospective Triple Crown winner.
Everyone wants to be the one to say that they knocked off the supposedly unbeatable horse. This year though, there are only expected to be seven others who try their hand at beating American Pharoah, the colt who hasn't lost since his first maiden race last year.
BELMONT STAKES ODDS
American Pharoah -130
Tale of Verve +1650
Keen Ice +2443
The price on American Pharoah more or less insinuates a relatively close race is in the making. The oddsmakers have softened their stance from recent Triple Crown bids, as California Chrome last year was a 1 to 2 favorite, while prior to that Big Brown was as high as -800 to win the Triple Crown going into the Belmont Stakes.
Even though this race is considered to be little more than a tossup between American Pharoah and the rest of the field, there aren't any obvious contenders in the bunch. Materiality and Frosted as the only two that are being given any chance whatsoever in this race, as Mubtaahij and the rest of the field are +1240 or worse. We do expect to see a little more action on Tale of Verve as Saturday approaches, knowing that he was the runner-up in the Preakness Stakes, while Madefromlucky could get a little bit more run as well after he won the Peter Pan Stakes three weeks ago.
American Pharoah has only been beaten once in his career, and the fact of the matter is that he might be the first legitimately well-priced colt to win the Triple Crown. Never before in the history of horse racing has a colt won the first two legs of the Triple Crown as favorites in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, then gone on to not be at least a 1 to 5 favorite in the Belmont Stakes, but this might be a first.
We know that American Pharoah is going to be out towards the front of the field on this day, and if he can cover the 1 1/2 miles, he should at least hit the board with ease.
THE MAIN CONTENDERS
There's one number and one number only out there to describe why people love Frosted: 107. That was his Beyer Speed Rating at the Wood Memorial, and even though it was only the second win of his career, it was also as impressive of a race as any three-year old had run heading into the Triple Crown.
Materiality is a fast-starting colt, but he just never had any traction in the Kentucky Derby. Todd Pletcher elected to rest him instead of running him in the Preakness Stakes, and that could prove fruitful. He'll very likely lead the field around the first turn and into the backstretch at Belmont Park, and that should position him to duel with American Pharoah down the stretch.
Frammento and Keen Ice almost feel like colts you can throw out of your exotics for the Belmont Stakes. These are definitively the worst two horses in the field, and neither has shown much of anything heading into the Belmont Stakes.
Tale of Verve was the longest shot on the board three weeks ago at the Preakness Stakes, but he put on a huge charge at the end and finished second to American Pharoah. With a cleaner run and a longer distance in front of him, he could be a factor again on Saturday.
Mubtaahij is a massive question mark. He was okay at the Kentucky Derby, but nothing more, and this is only going to be his second race here in the United States. Typically, the winner of the UAE Derby isn't a factor in the Triple Crown, but the fact that trainer Michael DeKock has elected to keep his pony here and run him in the Belmont Stakes says that he could be a factor.
Madefromlucky won the Peter Pan Stakes, which is generally a good sign for the Belmont. He bowed out of the Kentucky Derby relatively late in the proceedings to make a run specifically at the Belmont, and we think this was a well-calculated move by Todd Pletcher to try to claim one of the legs of the Triple Crown.
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