Triple Crown

Belmont Stakes 2014: Early Rankings

With only a few days until California Chrome’s chance at the final jewel, and a day until the post position draw, let us go through the contenders and see who has the best chance in the field to win.

  1. California Chrome
    1. Obviously the heavy favorite, he has the running style to win the Belmont.  The only thing I have against him is how he will deal with the distance.  He seemed to be not putting it all in late in the Preakness, which could show some stamina issues, but maybe with the three weeks off, and the amount of workouts at longer distances, he will be able to stay the trip.  The distance isn’t too much of a turnoff to going with him, but the odds are.  Will definitely be putting him in every exotic, but no straight up bets, maybe a souvenir bet.
  2. Tonalist
    1. The new shooter in the field, Tonalist comes out of the Peter Pan in excellent condition.  He has a running style that will help him out as he will stalk the pace and probably pressure California Chrome to make an early move.  If any horse could stop California Chrome from winning the Triple Crown, it would be Tonalist, but not because he will beat him, but rather he will force him to tire late, leaving the door open for another horse or himself to beat California Chrome.
  3. Commanding Curve
    1. Usually I don’t go for closers in the Belmont, or horses who have owners who guarantee a win (but that has seemed to work in California Chrome’s favor so maybe absolutes aren’t that bad), but the distance will play in favor of the other CC.  Commanding Curve was only a few strides from possibly passing California Chrome in the Derby, and has been working very well since.  While he isn’t running the fastest in the workouts, he is a very late and deep closer, so I don’t expect much from his workouts, but they are very good for his running style.  If the pace favors him, he will be in it in the end.
  4. Matuszak
    1. While I am not completely sold on this horse, he is coming out of a very good Federico Tesio (along side Kid Cruz), and I think will relish the distance more than his rival.  I think he is the best horse coming out of the Pimlico prep and has a lot to show.  He beat Ring Weekend in his first race, but hasn’t been able to get past rial Kid Cruz in his last three.  While his running style (like Kid Cruz and Commanding Curve) may not be the best to win the Belmont Stakes with, stranger things have happened, and I like him more than a lot of other horses in this field.  Live longshot.
  5. Wicked Strong
    1. Coming off a closing fourth in the Derby, the early favorite to knock off California Chrome in the Belmont has been training well at Belmont.  He shows some of the best speed throughout the race and has been very good in New York races.  However, just like Commanding Curve and Matuszak he is a closer.  The pace should not be too fast with a lot of closers in the field, but should still show a lot of speed late in the race with General A Rod and Samraat setting the pace early.
  6. Ride On Curlin
    1. The Preakness run was basically perfect but did not beat California Chrome late.  He was chasing however, showing that he should have a no problem getting the distance.  He will be chasing late and will show a lot of late speed.  Could easily see him winning.
  7. Samraat
    1. After running a great race in the Derby at a slightly slower pace than in the Wood Memorial, Samraat will be setting the pace in the race.  A very good New York runner, Samraat has some of the best early speed in the race.  The only bad thing about him is that General A Rod won’t be letting him get free on the lead and pressure him for most of the race, tiring him late.  But if General A Rod decides to sit back on the pace like he did in the Preakness, expect Samraat to be running strong late.
  8. General A Rod
    1. Speaking of General A Rod, this horse should be up at the lead with Samraat.  While he will probably be a better sprinter than a distance horse, he is just a cut above the remaining horses in the field.  His early speed will help keep everyone in the race, but he and Samraat will press the pace, so expect a pace similar to the Derby.  Probably won’t win, but has a better chance to hit the board than the rest of the field.
  9. Social Inclusion
    1. One of the favorites to beat California Chrome in the Preakness, he was unable to do anything but holding on for third.  He was tiring late making it seem as if he will be unable to get the distance.  He is lightly raced and doesn’t seem to show enough to get the win.
  10. Commissioner
    1. Another horse coming out of the Peter Pan, he ran a very good race on a sloppy track last time out.  He ran in many Derby preps throughout the Spring, but was unable to get a win.  Even in the weak Sunland Derby he couldn’t get past Chitu or Midnight Hawk.  Maybe if it is sloppy he has a chance, but not expecting much from this horse.
  11. Medal Count
    1. A much better synthetic horse, Medal Count did not show much in the Derby, or just about any of his dirt starts.  Don’t see him getting the dirt, or even the distance.  Not even worth a look.
  12. Matterhorn
    1. While he may have finished 4th in the Peter Pan, it was a long fourth, showing very little to say he will improve.  However he did come out of the February 22nd Optional Claiming race at Gulfstream, the one Constitution won over Tonalist which was more competitive than many Derby preps.  But Matterhorn won’t be giving Todd Pletcher another Belmont win.

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