By Anthony Kelzenberg 

What’s At Stake on Saturday, June 6th (US time)

To those punters that may not be aware, over the last 150 years the three championship dirt races for American-based Thoroughbreds, the Kentucky Derby (2000m), the Preakness Stakes (1900m), and the Belmont Stakes (2400m), are linked into an overarching title known as the “Triple Crown,” the most prestigious series of races in American racing. Many excellent horses have won at least two of the three races but only Citation (in 1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978) have completed the Triple Crown over the last 67 years. As a reference, most people have Citation and Secretariat in the top few horses ever to run in the United States, and Seattle Slew and Affirmed are generally included in the top ten American horses of all time.

AMERICAN PHAROAH (AP) won 2015’s Kentucky Derby and Belmont, and is the 3/5 favorite to complete his sweep of the Triple Crown. Can he do it? From my limited vantage point of following horse racing over the last 29 years, I am not overly optimistic. But I think he has a chance. Her is the result of Wednesday’s barrier draw (from SBNation.com):

Belmont Stakes post draw and official morning line odds:

Post Horse Morning Line odds
1 Mubtaahij 10/1
2 Tale of Verve 15/1
3 Madefromlucky 12/1
4 Frammento 30/1
5 American Pharoah 3/5
6 Frosted 5/1
7 Keen Ice 20/1
8 Materiality 6/1

 

Race strategy: The only horses in the field with a sharp early foot are #5 American Pharoah and #8 Materiality. I expect Materiality to be able to keep up with AP for 1600m and then start to tire. Materiality’s year-older “half-sister” (different sire, same dam), a nice miler named My Miss Sophia, was unable to carry her speed in staying races much beyond 1600m, and its logical the same will be the case for Materiality. I do not think there is a rational expectation that Materiality can put away AP and then hold off all of the swoopers. This opinion is significantly different from many punters, who expect Materiality to win. I would recommend leaving Materiality out of the win position on most if not all of your wagers at what I expect will be 5/1 or lower at post time.

Who’s Left? I expect #3 Madefromlucky will track Materiality (they have the same trainer), and will pounce at around the 600m. He doesn’t have the quality of some in here but he is a tough little colt and will be ridden by Javier Castellano, America’s top money jockey. One plus in this horse’s chances is he did win the “Peter Pan Stakes” well, and over the last few years that race has often figured in the Belmont Stakes outcome (including the top two finishers in the 2014 Belmont).   The others in this race are all plodders and they need AP, Materiality and Madefromlukcy to all falter, which could happen because the race is 2400m and really none of these contestants are bred to be top stayers. #6 Frosted is a plodder’s plodder but has the best staying bloodlines in the field, figures to get a piece. #1 Mubtaahij was my second pick in the Kentucky Derby, but it appeared his jockey was given poor instructions and was way too far back after the first 800m of the Derby were run. To correct that kind of error here trainer Mike De Kock has reached out to Irad Ortiz Jr., whom many consider to be the next great jockey to ride in New York and a rider with ice in his veins.

My Selections for the 2015 Belmont Stakes

1st – Madefromlucky
2nd – American Pharoah
3rd – Frosted
4th – Mubtaahij