It has been nearly four decades since the last Triple Crown winner, and American Pharoah will be the latest to try the “Test of Champions” as the Bob Baffert trainee will go off as the short priced favorite in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1).
The colt has won six races in a row by a combined 30 ¼ lengths and takes on seven foes today, five of which he beat in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and come into the race off a five-week freshening.
Six of the last dozen Belmont Stakes winners ran in the Run for the Roses and skipped the Preakness. Last year’s winner Tonalist was coming out of the Peter Pan Stakes (G2). In fact, we have to go back to 2005 to find the last Belmont Stakes winner that exited the Preakness. Afleet Alex won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes that year.
In early wagering on Friday American Pharoah dipped from his 3-5 morning line to 2-5, and likely will be right around 3-5 when the gates spring open at 6:50 ET. Only five betting favorites in the last 29 runnings of the Belmont Stakes have managed to win.
California Chrome went down to defeat last year at 4-5, and we had a few nightmares last year, not because we missed out on the Triple Crown but because our top pick Commissioner got nailed at the wire at 28-1.
While this year’s race is not exactly a great betting race, we do have an outstanding 13-race card on tap including six Grade 1 races.
One of the best on the card is the $1.25 million Met Mile (G1) which drew a tough field of 10 including last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Bayern, the Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, Cigar Mile (G1) winner Private Zone and Godolphin Mile (G1) winner Tamarkuz.
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Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
BEL Race 9 The Metropolitan Handicap G1 (4:49 ET)
1 Private Zone 4-1
4 Tonalist 5-2
9 Honor Code 6-1
7 Bayern 7-2
Analysis: Private Zone stretches back out to a mile here after taking the field gate to wire to win the seven furlong Churchill Downs (G2) on Derby Day. The gelding zipped through fractions of 22.38 and 44.64 and had plenty left late. The gelding has landed in the exacta in three of his four trips at a mile, including a second in the 2013 Cigar Mile (G1) and a win in that race last year earning a career top Beyer Speed Figure of 110. The gelding owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and breaking from the rail is going to be the one to catch here.
Tonalist, last year’s Belmont Stakes (G1) winner earned a career top Beyer last out winning the Westchester (G3) at today’s one mile distance over this surface. He is perfect in four starts at Belmont Park including winning the Belmont and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) last year. The Christophe Clement trainee makes his second start off a six-month layoff and should get a good trip sitting mid pack.
Honor Code was outrun in the early going and came with a seven wide run late to finish fifth last out in the Alysheba where the early pace failed to develop. Two back he won the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) with a strong late run to get up late. His lone start over the main track here was a neck loss in the Champagne (G1) his juvenile season. He should get some pace to run at and will by flying late.
Bayern made his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and tossed in a real clunker in the Churchill Downs. That was at seven furlongs which is not his best distance. he has bounced back from dull efforts in the past, winning the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) last year after getting outrun in the Travers (G1) and winning the Woody Stephens (G2) after checking in 21 lengths back in the Preakness. He figures to show more but doubt he is going to offer much value for the top spot.
WIN: #1 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,4,7,9
TRI: 1,4 / 1,4,7,9 / 1,4,6,7,9
Belmont Stakes Michael’s Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire Belmont Stakes Day card. Report will be available by June 5.
The third jewel of the Triple Crown features an outstanding day of horse betting that also includes the Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan, the Grade 1, $750,000 Longines Just a Game, the Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens, the Grade 1, $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap, the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps, the Grade 1, $750,000 Acorn, the Grade 2, $500,000 Brooklyn Invitational, the Grade 3, $300,000 Jaipur Invitational, and the $150,000 Easy Goer.