American Pharoah to Face Tough Task in Belmont Stakes

American Pharoah wins the Preakness by seven lengths in the slop. (Photo credit: Maryland Jockey Club).

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 when he breaks from the gate in the Belmont Stakes in three weeks, and he is going to have a tough group of foes waiting for him in New York.

It looks as if as many as eight foes will take him on, including Tale of Verve, the recent maiden winner who rallied from the back of the pack at 28-1 to finish in the runner up spot in the Preakness.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who elected to skip the second jewel of the Triple Crown figures to be back with three runners— Materiality and Carpe Diem, who were sixth and 10th, respectively in the Kentucky Derby, and Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky.

Four other horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness are probable: Frosted (4th), Keen Ice (7th), Mumtaahij (8th) and Frammento (11th).

American Pharoah is the 14th horse to win the Kentucky Derby/Preakness double since Affirmed last won the Triple Crown in 1978, and they all came up short in New York.

California Chrome was the most recent, last year checking in fourth as the beaten favorite. I’ll Have Another had to scratch on the eve of the Belmont Stakes with an injury in 2012, and Big Brown was eased in 2008.

2015 Preakness Stakes

 

Here is an early look at the potential field for the Belmont Stakes:

American Pharoah 6-5

All eyes will be on this colt in New York in three weeks, and he figures to go off at between 4-5 and 6-5 depending on the size of the field. While his Derby win was described as “workmanlike”, he loved the slop at Pimlico, winning the Preakness by seven lengths and earning a 102 Beyer. He is a serious threat to end the Triple Crown drought, but we said the same thing about Real Quiet, Smarty Jones, Big Brown and California Chrome too.

Frosted 9-2

The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was the only runner in the Derby that was making up any significant ground in the stretch, rallying to finish fourth as my top pick. He did not get a fast enough pace to run at in Louisville. Throat surgery after his disappointing fourth in the Fountain of Youth worked, as his Wood Memorial win was impressive.

Todd Pletcher has three runners pointed toward the Belmont Stakes.

Materiality 5-1

A troubled sixth in the Derby, I thought this colt would have been a threat in the Preakness, but Pletcher elected to sit it out. The colt only has four starts under his belt including his win in the Florida Derby. He has as much upside as any of the potential Belmont Stakes starters.

Carpe Diem 12-1

He was a disappointing 10th in the Derby as the third betting choice and really had no excuse. His wins in the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass were solid. The key for this guy may be watching how he works over the next couple of weeks.

Keen Ice 15-1

Seventh in the Kentucky Derby, the Dale Romans trainee has just a maiden win. He was fifth in the Holy Bull, third in the Risen Star and fourth in the Louisiana Derby. By Curlin out of an Awesome Again mare, he has a long-winded pedigree, but will have to take a major step forward to be a threat in the Belmont.

Madefromlucky 15-1

This colt was no match for American Pharoah in Hot Springs, running second in the Rebel and fourth in the Arkansas Derby. He skipped the Derby and came back with a sharp win in the Peter Pan over the Belmont Park main track on Mau 9. His 94 Beyer is on the light side of what it will take to win the Belmont.

Mubtaahij 16-1

Even Mike DeKock, regarded as one of the top trainers in the world, could not get a UAE Derby winner to come to the U.S. and take the Roses. The colt was 14-1 in the Derby but not a real threat in an eighth place finish.

Tale of Verve 20-1

It took six tries for this colt to break his maiden, and he looked overmatched in the Derby, but there he was rallying in the slop to run second at 28-1 and I thought he should have been 100-1. Dallas Stewart knows how to get a longshot ready for a Triple Crown race, running second in the Derby in 2013 and 2014 with bombs.

Frammento 30-1

A non-threatening 11th in the Derby, he has won just once in eight career starts. He was third in the Fountain of Youth and fourth in the Blue Grass in his Derby preps. He has trainer Nick Zito calling the shots. The trainer has pulled off two of the biggest upsets, with Da’ Tara ($79.00) in 2008 and Birdstone ($74.00) in 2004. There was a Triple Crown hanging in the balance in both of those years (Big Brown and Smarty Jones).

 

Michael Dempsey’s Belmont Stakes Day Report $20.00

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.

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