It will be run as race 11 on this Saturday’s huge Belmont card and the track will only be able to handle 90,000, so I would be willing to bet they will be shutting out around 15 to 20 thousand fans and bettors in The City That Never Sleeps.
So we have yet another horse going for that elusive trophy and a spot in history beside some great horses like Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Secretariat who were the great ones of the 70’s and the last three to win the Triple Crown with Affirmed being the last back in 1978.
Now will it be American Pharoah?
On paper this is AP’s race to lose. He has beaten his main foes in this race, in particular top horses such as Frosted and Materiality in the Kentucky Derby but they passed the Preakness. Instead they took the needed extra time off and could be ready for the upset.
Let’s size the field of eight, less Carpe Diem and The Truth Or Else, who were both scratched Monday morning.
Since losing his debut race at Del Mar last August he has rattled off six straight wins with five of those being in Grade I races. He has kept his weight and energy. If left alone on the front end, as they say in Manhattan, “forget about it!”
From a betting standpoint, at probable odds of 3/5 we will be looking for some trifecta magic. Victor Espinoza will ride and he has had little success at Belmont, winning just 2 of his 69 mounts plus losing last year aboard California Chrome. This will be trainer Bob Baffert’s fourth shot at winning the Triple Crown. If AP is good enough, and he just may be, the racing industry will have a superstar.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is playing some kind of poker as he has yet to name his jockeys on his three runners. Pletcher does seem determined to beat Pharoah. He has won this race twice with four seconds.
Todd will send out the lightly raced Materiality, who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby after hesitating at the break to be off last. He showed some courage and if JR Valazquez gets back on him we will be using in the top two spots.
The third runner for Pletcher will be Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky. A win over the track is always a big plus, but he has been crushed by AP both times he ran against him. If you remember, last year the winner of the Belmont (Tonalist) also came out of the Peter Pan.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sends out Frosted who may end up as the second betting choice. Frosted ran great in the Kentucky Derby, after being a bit rank in the beginning. He dropped well of the pace, commenced a sweeping five-wide move leaving the turn, and as the chart writer said he churned on just missing third by a dwindling neck. This colt will have no problem getting the distance. If, and it’s a big if, Frosted can run back to his Wood Memorial win he can win this race.
Mubtaahij looks very sneaky in here. He was not ready for the Kentucky Derby but his trainer Michael de Kock has him geared up for a big effort. Michael has been working this horse like he is made of steel and will have no problem getting the distance. Plus the price will be right.
Frammento is trained by one of our favorite guys, Nick Zito. He does get Mike Smith but Mike will need a ton of magic to get this one home on top. Dale Romans sends out Keen Ice with Kent D. His Kentucky Derby effort was much better than looked as he was stalled awaiting room from the head of the lane to almost midstretch. Once clear he finished willingly. We will be using him in the third and fourth spots in our trifectas and supers.
Tale of Verve had everything go his way at the Preakness. No such luck this time.
American Pharoah wins if he runs his race. If Frosted can run back to his Wood win and Materiality can return to his Florida Derby showing, we will have a humdinger of a horse race. The big word is if! Look for Materiality to show all of his early speed and not let AP get away. If they get into it early here comes Frosted and Mubtaahij.
This entire betting card will offer some great betting races so there is no need to get crazy with a 3/5 shot unless you think you can beat him rain or shine. As for myself I will be heading to the windows playing only trifectas and supers using AP first and second with Frosted, Materiality and Mubtaahij.
I just may hit the “all” button for third and fourth in a few tickets. I will also be using Frosted as a key first and second with the other main contenders. The race books will be on fire.
Twin Q: Don’t forget those giveaways and that huge Twin Q of $33,333.33 at Station Casinos. Note that the 33 cents was put in by Twin Q Donnie at Palace Station; Donnie is a real “George.”
So get out and bet the Belmont. Remember, you just could be walking around lucky and not even know it.
Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].