The Smell of Horsecrap and Money: The Belmont Field Has Been Drawn, We Break It Down.

Featured, Sports and Bets — June 4, 2014 at 11:18 pm by

On Saturday, at 6:52 EST, we will find out if California Chrome has enough “horsepower” left to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history and the first since Affirmed in 1978.  California Chrome will take on the Belmont Stakes and her mile and 1/2 distance, along with ten eager challengers, who are waiting to play spoiler in Chrome’s bid for horseracing glory.  Saturday’s Belmont Stakes won’t be an easy task for this talented colt.  California Chrome is racing against some of the best three-year olds in America for the third time in just five weeks.  Some of these new players took the Preakness off after running in the Kentucky Derby and have had time to rest and rejuvenate.  Other challengers are joining the Triple Crown fight for the first time and have been training specifically for this race.  Several great horses have been in the same situation as California Chrome and failed at Belmont Park.  In 2004, Smarty Jones dominated  the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, only to find a freshened contender at the wire in New York. Bad luck found Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown in 2008.  He lost a shoe and was eased by jockey Kent Desormeaux  in the Belmont after he had obliterated the fields of the Derby and the Preakness.  Both of those horses were as “can’t miss” as you can get as they stood in the gate in the moments before the Belmont, just like California Chrome will be.

Of course, that history means nothing to this horse and his connections.  All history proves is that winning the Triple Crown is difficult to achieve.  California Chrome’s journey and his races in this Triple Crown quest will be his own, win or lose on Saturday.  The rides of Smarty Jones and Big Brown have nothing to do with right here and right now.

And right now is June 2014.  California Chrome and his connections will write their own history on Saturday.  Will it be another Triple Crown disappointment, or will this beautiful colt from the west coast seize the moment and turn it into the stuff of legend?  We will soon find out and this field, whose post positions were drawn today, will have a say in how California Chrome writes his next chapter.

The Field of The 2014 Belmont Stakes

 

#1 Medal Count (20-1)-  This colt skipped the Preakness after an uninspiring eighth place finish in the Kentucky Derby.  Nice horse, and he’s training lights out in preparation for this, but his speed figs and lack of real big win make him seem like an outsider here.  Of course, anyone can finish third or fourth.

#2 California Chrome (3-5)-  His odds may not even be that good come post time.  Heavy and obvious favorite, this guy is the easily the best of this bunch.  Of course that doesn’t always translate to a win, but this horse has a special look to him.  Like the way he looks this week and my massive gut tells me he’ll handle the mile and 1/2 distance. Look for jockey Victor Espinoza to guide him off the rail and place him just off the pace.  Of course Chrome could also dictate the pace from this post if nobody else guns for the early lead.  Either way, Espinoza will wait until they turn for home to give California Chrome that flick of the reins, which is his sign to unleash his signature push button speed and second gear.  If he can comfortably stalk the pace or dictate the speed from the front of the pack, California Chrome will win the Triple Crown.   Legendary status and a life of breeding with hot, pedigreed mares awaits. Legend?

#3 Matterhorn (30-1) –  Every big race features a few entries that make you wonder why the hell they’re entered in the first place.  Sometimes the owners just want the prestige of running in a historic race. Matterhorn looks to be that entry for the Belmont.  This guy only has a win in a maiden race to boast about and his speed figs aren’t close.  Of course, he’s a Todd Pletcher trained horse, so who knows, maybe he’s secretly primed for the run of his life.  I don’t see it here, the waters are too deep.  The Matterhorn is a lovely mountain though….

#4 Commanding Curve (15-1) –  Interesting entry finish strong in the Derby, coming eight wide to take second after a geared down Cali Chrome.  Skipped the Preakness and looms as a freshened and legitimate threat.  Some feel he’ll relish the extra distance. Training hints that he’ll remain in form and trainer Dallas Stewart seems confident.  Consider.  Hey buddy, you ruined my Derby exacta!

#5 Ride on Curlin (12-1) – This son of Curlin ran well at Pimlico, but unlike his papa, he had to settle for second.  Was coming late and popped a 103 Beyers speed fig in doing so.  Throw out his Derby, jockey Calvin Borel took him on an absurd ride.  One of only three who will run in all three Triple Crown races, this guy deserves plenty of respect.  Seems primed again and full of energy.  Dangerous, but may have to adjust his late running style and stay closer to the front to have a chance here.  Contender.

#6 Matuszak (30-1)-  This guy lost his last two to Kid Cruz, who is entered elsewhere on today’s card after being dominated in the Preakness.  Matuszak simply isn’t fast enough to hang with these monsters.  Unless he sprouts wings or jet engines, I don’t see him winning.  Extreme long shot.  Didn’t a Matuszak play for the Raiders back in the day?

 

#7 Samraat (20-1)-   Samraat always gives a solid effort and you can’t deny his back-to-back Withers and Gotham wins.  But the classic distances seem like a problem and he’s yet to pop that 100 Beyer mark.  I do think that he’ll be in a nice stalking position coming into the turn, but I don’t know if he’ll have enough in the stretch for a horse like California Chrome.  That being said, it would be foolish to leave him out of your exotic bets.  Exclude at your own risk.

# 8 Commissioner-  Horse has the pedigree for big things, but just hasn’t been able to put it together when the bright lights are on.  Got smoked in his last by Tonalist.  Could Commissioner be one of those ponies who suddenly improves during his three-year old campaign?  Sure, just not in this spot against these.  Pretender and I would be shocked if he finished in the money.  Plus, The Commish was a shitty show.  It was before Michael Chiklis became tough….

 

#9 Wicked Strong-  Wood winner skipped the Preakness after encountering more traffic in the Kentucky Derby than you did driving home on 695 today.  Still battled for fourth in that one and has the look of an upsetter.  Class and a solid back performance make him an obvious threat to Chrome’s legacy.  But does one good race really make him legit?  A lot of wise guys think so.  Interesting.

#10 General a Rod-  The last of the three who will have run in all three Triple Crown affairs.  Tough horse, but he’s yet to win a graded stakes contest.  May be a factor in the early pace, since on paper this race lacks a lot of early speedballs.  Needs to run the race of his life to win this one.

#11 Tonalist-  Along with Ride On Curlin and Commanding Curve, Tonalist is the main threat to the favorite.   Impressive win over a sloppy Belmont in his last, though I’m not too sure about the true quality of that field.  No equine has looked better working over the Belmont loop this week.  Has the breeding and the talent to make Chrome’s connections a little nervous and a win by this guy would make their coffee taste like horsecrap for months.  Definite wise guy horse and the probable second choice in the betting come post time.  Has one of the best jockeys in the game on his back and it’s interesting to note that Rosario left Ride on Curlin to ride him for this.  Post will keep him out of trouble early.  Dangerous.

 

 

We’ll pick the full card for Belmont Day on Friday.  Stay tuned, babes.

 

 

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