Once we get to the Belmont Stakes, most of the major contenders are well-known. However, don’t overlook the new shooters to the party.
They come to New York fresh and are often late bloomers that step up and run big at generous odds. Since 2007, four Belmont Stakes winners were making their first appearance in a Triple Crown race: the filly Rags to Riches in 2007, Da’ Tara in 2008, Drosselmeyer in 2010 and Ruler on Ice in 2011.
While Rags to Riches came in off a win in the Kentucky Oaks and was a logical contender, the three others were all upset winners.
The new shooters this year are Matterhorn, Matuszak, Commissioner and Tonalist. All are listed at 8-1 or higher according to Odds Shark.
One myth about the Belmont Stakes is that since it is the longest of the three Triple Crown races, it must be won by horses that rally from the back of the pack.
It’s just not true.
While it is tough to take the field gate to wire (Since Swale in 1984, the only gate-to-wire Belmont winner has been Da’ Tara in 2008), most of the winners have shown good tactical speed.
The winners tend to be in the first flight, and when they head for home, the winner is usually on the lead. The reason the late closers are at a distinct disadvantage is because the early pace of the Belmont Stakes is usually much slower than the Derby and Preakness.
The contender with the perfect running style this year? Chalk players will be pleased with the answer.
By now, you have heard that California Chrome has a modest pedigree, by a sprint sire named Lucky Pulpit that stands for just $2,500 and out of a mare that ran for an $8,000 claiming tag.
To get 1 1/2 miles, it is preferable for the runner to have a long-winded pedigree. Several runners in the field do have more stamina-influenced genes.
One is Commissioner, who is by the sire A.P. Indy who won the 1992 Belmont Stakes, and the colt is out of a mare that was sired by another Belmont Stakes winner in Touch Gold.
Wicked Strong is out of the Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic, while Tonalist is out of a Pleasant Colony mare.
A good source to look up the pedigree of your Belmont Stakes pick is the Thoroughbred Pedigree Database.
The Belmont Stakes has not been kind to betting favorites in recent years. The last two horses bidding for a Triple Crown were Big Brown in 2008 and Smarty Jones in 2004. Both were sent off at betting odds of 1-5 and both lost.
If we look at the last six runnings of the Belmont Stakes, the average winning payoff is $37. In the last two years the Triple Crown was at stake, Da ‘Tara paid $79.00 in 2008, while Birdstone derailed the Triple Crown bid in 2004 and paid $74.00.
If California Chrome can’t get the distance at betting odds of 3-5, according to the latest prices at Odds Shark, expect to see the tote board light up.
After a seven-hour day of playing the ponies, feel free to have a cocktail. While the Kentucky Derby has the mint julep and the Preakness drink of choice is the Black-Eyed Susan, there are several choices for the third jewel of the Triple Crown.
The Belmont Breeze is a traditional drink, but this year the official Belmont Jewel might quench your thirst better. The drink is made with 1 1/2 ounces of Knob Creek bourbon, two ounces of lemonade and one ounce of pomegranate juice.
However, this year there is a new player. Triple Crown Whiskey might be a more appropriate drink this year, and I have to think the connections of California Chrome may be cracking a bottle in the winner’s circle.
The dust has settled from the Belmont Stakes, and while racing is once again left disappointed, the Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown gave racing fans some thrilling moments and valuable lessons.
Horse racing is a sport of extreme highs and lows. California Chrome looked invincible heading toward the Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown glory, only to fall short like so many have since Affirmed took home the crown in 1978.
Here is a look at some of the lessons we can take away from the 2014 Triple Crown season.