Belmont Odds 2014: Latest Betting Lines and Predictions
The Belmont Stakes is rapidly approaching, and California Chrome's date with destiny looms on the horizon. He will try to capture horse racing's most elusive and sought-after prize, the Triple Crown.
After two triumphant victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the popular chestnut colt will not run into the history books unopposed. He will have several fresh challengers eager to deny him his spot among racing's immortals.
Read on for a look at some of the latest betting lines courtesy of Odds Shark and predictions on how these horses will fare. With no official field set yet, there is still a lot that can change between now and the big race on June 7.
Current Odds: 33-1
Take nothing away from his effort in the Preakness Stakes. It was a game performance, and this lightly-raced, inexperienced colt showed he could be competitive with the big boys.
His inexperience got the better of him before the Preakness began. He became increasingly washed out and fractious as he made his way to the starting gate and may have left some of his race behind. With the remarkable card scheduled for Belmont Stakes Day and a Triple Crown on the line, Belmont Park is going to be packed. He seems to have some issues with large crowds, and a full house may be too much for him to handle.
Matterhorn is a bit of a puzzle in this race. He broke his maiden last fall against a quality field—including Tonalist—and has since given no indication he is a stakes horse, let alone a Grade 1-type competitor.
After trainer Todd Pletcher's top tier string was decimated by injury, it appears he is calling in the D-squad to give himself a chance in the race. Matterhorn was last seen finishing fourth in the Peter Pan Stakes ahead of three rivals—one who did not even finish the race.
General a Rod
Current Odds: No odds given, still uncertain whether he starts
After showing modest improvement in the Preakness Stakes and finishing fourth after an 11th place showing in the Kentucky Derby, General a Rod is back for another crack at the top tier horses in the Belmont Stakes.
Though he seems over-faced, both in distance and in class competition, his trainer, Mike Maker, seemed confident in an interview with ESPN, citing poor trips as an excuse in the prior Triple Crown races:
"We waited it out, and the horse told us to go. I felt good before the Preakness and I feel good before the Belmont. One of these times we're going to have a clean run and go from there."
This colt has given zero indications that he is suited for the mile and a half distance—regardless of whether or not the trip was the sole factor in the Derby and Preakness.
Current Odds: 40-1
Kid Cruz jumped into the deep end of the pool in the Preakness Stakes, but despite his home track advantage, the best he could manage was 8th—ahead of two rivals.
His running style and pedigree are his only strengths here. His sire, Lemon Drop Kid, defeated Charismatic and ended the hope of a Triple Crown in 1999 in the Belmont Stakes. With some likely pressure on the lead, his come from behind style should be advantageous.
Despite those two selling points, he still may simply be a cut below the top horses here.
Current Odds: 14-1
Medal Count has the potential to be a really productive, competitive stakes horse. Unfortunately, that success seems like it could come over turf and synthetics—his connections seem convinced that he belongs on conventional dirt.
While he did break his maiden over dirt at Ellis Park, the race had been originally slated for the turf and came off, resulting in several scratches and some rivals that may not have handled dirt at all. His only competitive performances since that maiden win have come on grass or synthetic surfaces.
The one thing he does have going for him is his pedigree. He is bred to excel at longer distances and should find the mile and a half well within his scope.
Current Odds: 33-1
Trainer Todd Pletcher started out the Triple Crown season with a loaded arsenal. Even after the Kentucky Derby it appeared that he was poised to have some major threats for the Belmont Stakes. One by one his top contenders fell to the sidelines with injuries, and he was left with one—Commissioner.
This royally bred son of Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy was the horse everyone was talking about at the beginning of the year. He was topping all of the early Derby lists after he won an allowance race at Gulfstream. Then the shine faded as he struggled against stakes company in each subsequent start.
His effort in the Peter Pan Stakes was competitive enough to finish second to Tonalist, but it was not an awe-inspiring performance. Despite his pedigree and lofty connections, he may simply not be that good.
Current Odds: 15-2
There is no denying that Commanding Curve turned in a dynamite effort in the Kentucky Derby. It appeared he was making up ground sharply at the end, but the question always remains in such a large field: Was he actually moving up, or was he just picking up the pieces?
The ridgling son of Master Command has enough stamina in his pedigree to potentially handle the distance, but first he will need to prove that his strong performance in the Run for the Roses was not a fluke. He took four tries to break his maiden, and before the Derby, his best effort against stakes company was third against a suspect bunch in the Louisiana Derby.
Current Odds: 15-2
Tonalist may be the biggest wild card heading into the Belmont Stakes. He became the buzz horse as a fresh face heading towards the third jewel of the Triple Crown after a visually stunning victory in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 10.
With only four starts, there is no telling how good he may or may not be. He defeated a well-bred but underachieving rival in Commissioner in the Peter Pan, and while he did so impressively, he seemed to move up significantly over the sealed, sloppy track. That sort of surface tends to play in favor of speed, and the stars aligned for him that day.
He will get a major class test, and if the forecast calls for heavy rain he becomes more of a threat.
Ride on Curlin
Current Odds: 5-1
Ride on Curlin has generated quite a name for himself over the course of the Triple Crown. Granted, most of that buzz has been around his feisty attitude and rambunctious behavior.
Despite being a handful in the barn, the colt seems to be thriving under the demands of the Triple Crown and has been training sharply at Belmont, as Daily Racing Form's Mike Welsch reported:
Ride on Curlin really full of himself coming to wire and around club turn, rider had his hands full keeping him from running off.— Mike Welsch (@DRFWelsch) May 30, 2014
The hard-knocking colt shares the same sire as Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, and there is plenty of depth there as well—despite the sprint influence in his immediate female family. The biggest question (like the one that plagues California Chrome) will be how much is taken out of them after running in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
Current Odds: 40-1
It is difficult to build a sound case for Matuszak to win the Belmont Stakes, but he may be an interesting longshot with the potential to play the spoiler.
Trainer Bill Mott is regarded as one of the very best trainers in the history of the sport. Among his many marquee victories, including nine separate Breeders' Cup scores, is a win in the Belmont Stakes in 2010 with Drosselmeyer. Known for being a conservative horseman, he would not enter this horse if he did not think he was capable.
To be fair, this impeccably-bred colt has not won since his debut effort as a juvenile last September, and his runner-up finish in the Federico Tesio Stakes was not flattered by Kid Cruz flopping in the Preakness. Still, he is intriguing.
Current Odds: 20-1
Samraat has one distinct advantage over many of his rivals—he has proven himself at Belmont Park. He won his career debut at Belmont as a juvenile, and the New York-bred colt has established himself this spring as a gritty, resilient competitor.
He has proven to be the sort of horse that gives 110% every single time—though the grueling distance of a mile and a half may be beyond his scope. He turned in a resolute performance in the Kentucky Derby and missed fourth by a bare nose to Wicked Strong after a rough trip.
He is the type of blue-collar horse that, like California Chrome, has already outrun his modest pedigree and could continue to do so.
Current Odds: 9-1
Wicked Strong, the popular colt who races with a portion of his earnings going to the One Fund for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings, showed his heart with a game fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
By skipping the Preakness and opting to focus attention on the Belmont Stakes, Wicked Strong will have a race that plays to all of his strengths and the advantage of coming in well rested. The long stretch at Belmont Park could be exactly what he needs, and with a clear trip, he will be flying late to try to deny California Chrome the Triple Crown.
The Beverly, Massachusetts-based partnership that owns the colt is no stranger to success in the Belmont Stakes. They won in 1993 with Colonial Affair.
Current Odds: Even
California Chrome has surpassed expectations with every race. No one believed that the commonly-bred colt from modest beginnings could win the Kentucky Derby—let alone head to the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown on the line. But he has passed every test with flying colors and made a believer out of a lot of skeptics.
There is a reason the Belmont Stakes is the true "Test of Champions." At a grueling distance of a mile and a half, every ounce of stamina, heart and class will be put to the test.
Some of the greatest horses the sport has seen in decades—Spectacular Bid, Silver Charm, Sunday Silence—have all fallen short in the Belmont Stakes. California Chrome does not have history on his side.
He could, however, be something really special. And we will know for sure on Saturday.
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