This Saturday, June 7, 2014, at the famous Belmont Park racetrack, located in Elmont, NY, will be the 2014 edition of the Belmont Stakes. The race is also known as the Test of the Champions,” as it is the only 3YO race, where these young horses run the entire 1 1/2 mile circumference of Belmont Park’s oval. Belmont Park is known as “Big Sandy,” for its surface, and is also known for its wide, sweeping turns. The Belmont Stakes is also known as the “race for the Triple Crown,” when there is a possibility of a 3YO, who has won the first two legs (Kentucky Derby and the Preakness) of the Crown, entering the Belmont Stakes with a shot at accomplishing one of the most difficult things in not only in Thoroughbred Racing, but in all of sports- the elusive Triple Crown.
After Citation’s Triple Crown win in 1948, racing saw several horses who had shots to be Triple Crown winners. However, for whatever reason or another, the sport started to see a drought. So many talented and great horses, such as Northern Dancer, Tim Tam, Majestic Prince, etc, won the first two legs of the Crown, only to be defeated in the Belmont. It was nice to see horses become dual classic winners, but the sport really wanted to see that Triple Crown Trophy given away.
Some people, I am sure didn’t think a Triple Crown was ever going to happen, until 1973 came along. Secretariat, his owner, Mrs. Penny Chenery (Tweedy at the time), and the horse’s groom, Eddie Sweat, were household names going into the 1973 Belmont Stakes. The horse was a National Hero, as he singlehandedly brought the USA together. The country was embroiled in Vietnam, and Government corruption. The USA needed a hero, and Secretariat was it. Needless to say, we all know he blasted the field by 31 lengths.
Four years later, racing saw back to back Triple Crown winners. Seattle Slew, who was bought at auction for a mere 17,000, went into the 1977 Belmont Stakes still undefeated. He had no problems with the field. The next year, Affirmed, along with his dogged rival, Alydar (rivalry started as 2YOs) just put on a show throughout the entire Triple Crown series. In one of the greatest stretch duals, Alydar poked a head in front. However, Affirmed, showing so much heart, responded to being hit with the left hand, and came right back, and held back Alydar to win the Triple Crown.
Since Affirmed, it has been 36 years since a horse completed the Triple Crown. Like the long drought before, we have seen quite a few horses, great and otherwise, win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, only to lose in the Belmont. I am talking about horses like Alysheba, Smarty Jones, Big Brown, Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet, etc. I was at Silver Charm’s and Real Quiet’s attempts. Trust me. To see the Triple Crown hopeful lose hurts. You get a sinking feeling. That being said, we have been close.
The real question for Saturday is: Can California Chrome break the drought? Can this modestly bred colt join the exclusive club of the 11 Triple Crown winners? Chrome is the ultimate Hollywood story. He comes from humble beginnings, and works his way to the top. His owners are a good old fashioned mom and pop operation. If the racing gods are smiling on him, Saturday, and he becomes the 12th Triple Crown winner, I think Steven Spielberg better start getting a movie script ready.
Of course, this potential Hollywood ending could end in the heart crushing ways that racing fans have seen. Will California Chrome come up short in his bid for Triple Crown glory? if it happens, who will pull the upset? Will it be one of the fresh horses who skipped the first two legs of the Crown? Will it be one of the horses who ran in the Derby, and skipped the Preakness? The other option is one of the others who ran in all three Triple Crown races?
In this blog, we are going to find out. I am now going to list the field for the 2014 Belmont Stakes. After the field is listed, I will give my opinion on the field, and give you my predictions for the race. I hope you will enjoy my analysis.
The 2014 Belmont Stakes
Belmont Park Racetrack, Elmont. NY
Post Time: 6:52pm EST, June 7, 2014 on NBC
Distance : 1 1/2 miles on dirt
PP Horse. Jockey/ Trainer. Odds
1. Medal Count (Alvarado/ Romans) 20-1
2. California Chrome (Espinosa/Sherman) 3-5
3. Matterhorn (Bravo/Pletcher) 30-1
4. Commanding Curve (Bridgmohan/Stewart) 15-1
5. Ride On Curlin (Velasquez/Gowan) 12-1
6. Matuszak (Smith/Mott) 30-1
7. Samraat (Ortiz/Viollete) 20-1
8. Commissioner (Castellano/Pletcher) 20-1
9. Wicked Strong (Maragh/Jerkens) 6-1
10. General A Rod (Napravnik/Maker) 20-1
11. Tonalist (Rosario/Clement) 8-1
There has been a lot of people behind California Chrome, and it’s easy to see why. His breeding does not scream Kentucky blue blood. He’s a California bred from mediocre parents. His owners, who bought his dam, were called “dumbasses,” hence the name, Dumbass Partnership. People like to see an underdog beat the top dogs. In this case, racing fans are seeing a “10,000 dollar horse defeating million dollar horses. ” I personally think that he is a wonderful horse. I don’t buy into the Secretariat comparisons. Secretariat was a one of a kind horse. Anyway, I do think that Chrome has an excellent chance of winning, and becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner. . He needs to break well, and have a great ground saving trip.
Looking at the other horses , I am pretty sure that I am going to toss Samraat. I don’t think he’s equipped to go 1 1/2 miles. I wasn’t all that impressed with him in the Wood Memorial, and his Derby performance wasn’t all that either. Matterhorn, the fourth place finisher in the Peter Pan, could be tossed. I don’t expect much from him either. Matuszak, runner-up in the Frederico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, is another horse who is way over his head.
Tonalist, Commissioner, Medal Count, and General A Rod are the the next bunch of contenders we will examine. Medal Count ran in the Derby and skipped the Preakness. General A Rod ran in the Derby, and even though the he didn’t have a great day, he went on to the Preakness, and finished third. Do they have a shot? Well, I don’t think Rod has a shot to do any damage, as far as get Chrome in a speed duel. Chrome is too talented, and Rod got stuck with the 10 hole. I would play Medal Count in exotics. He might even be a long shot to upset the Crown bid. Tonalist, the Peter Pan winner, has been training very well at Belmont Park. I am worried about the outside post. Commissioner finished 2nd to Tonalist, but was a distant second.
The last bunch of horses that will be discussed are Commanding Curve, Ride On Curlin, and Wicked Strong. As most racing people know, California Chrome has been working very well, and has been adapting well to the Belmont Park track and the surrounding areas. Well, these three horses are the ones who have also been working very well. Commanding Curve, who finished second in the Derby, has done most of his work at Churchill Downs, but recently did a very good 4 furlong workout at Belmont. He may need to lay closer to the pace to have any shot of winning. It’s a myth that closers have an advantage in the Belmont Stakes, due to the 1 1/2 mile distance, when actually horses who are near, or are on the lead tend to be the winner.
Another horse who may need to be closer to the pace is Wicked Strong, who’s breaking from the number 9 hole. He’s been training like a monster at Belmont Park. He’s trained by Jimmy Jerkens, whose father, famed trainer Allen Jerkens, was known as the ” Giant Killer.” The “Giant Killer” moniker came about because Allen Jerkens became known for his horses upsetting huge favorites. The most famous are the A. Jerkens trained Onion defeating Secretariat in the 1973 Whitney Handicap, and defeating Kelso 3 times with Beau Purple. Prove Out would beat Secretariat in the 1973 Woodward Stakes. The question for Jimmy Jerkens here is, whether he can do what his father did. On the day of the Belmont Stakes draw, he was very happy with how Wicked Strong was working. As Wicked Strong, who can be a handful, Jerkens wished the horse got a post position a little more to the inside. However, I think with the rest from the 4th place finish in the Derby, I think Wicked Strong has a great shot.
In speaking of horses that are a handful, Ride On Curlin has been photographed in a reared up position more times than I can count. He is really something. This son of Curlin is very talented, nonetheless. Ride On Curlin finished second in the Preakness, after an out of the money finish in the Derby. He did mount a challenge in Preakness, but Chrome was the best horse. He has been working well at Belmont Park. I like this horse a lot.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed my analysis of the field. Now, it’s time to make my predictions for the 2014 Belmont Stakes. It is time for me to put my cards on the table, or should I say, go to the betting window.
Even though it would be easy to just end the blog and say California Chrome wins the Triple Crown, I just don’t know. I want him to win. I want a Crown like many fans do. I just am not sure that he will be the one. Victor Espinosa, his jockey, is 2 for 67 at Belmont. He’s in the 2 hole. Hopefully, he will break clean. As talented as Chrome is, it is still a horse race, and this race is not a slam dunk.
The Winner of the 2014 Belmont Stakes is: Wicked Strong. Why: He’s a fresh horse, who skipped the Preakness. He has been working very well. His jockey, Rajiv Maragh, is familiar with him, and with Belmont Park. If he breaks clean, and gets in good position, Even though, I think Commanding Curve, or Ride On Curlin could pull the upset, Wicked Strong will be the one with the blanket of carnations on his back.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan
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