The final leg of the Triple Crown stretch on June 7 at the Belmont Stakes in New York provides yet another high-intensity moment for betters hardcore and causal alike to make significant coin.
Lost in the overwhelming narrative that is California Chrome's bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 is the underappreciated fact that the field is ripe with potential contenders worthy of a keen eye from bettors.
With the track longer than that of the first two Triple Crown legs and fresh faces who skipped the middle portion in Baltimore ready to seize first place, bettors have ample opportunity to cash in on sound odds.
Here's a gander at some underdogs that could prevail this weekend.
|California Chrome||Steven Coburn & Perry Martin||Art Sherman||1-1|
|Commanding Curve||West Point Thoroughbreds||Dallas Stewart||15-2|
|Commissioner||WinStar Farm||Todd Pletcher||33-1|
|General A Rod||Skychai Racing LLC & Starlight Racing||Mike Maker||N/A|
|Kid Cruz||Vina Del Mar Tb's & Black Swan Stb.||Linda Rice||40-1|
|Matterhorn||Mrs. John Maginer, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith||Todd Pletcher||33-1|
|Medal Count||Spendthrift Farm LLC||Dale Romans||14-1|
|Matuszak||George Prussin||Bill Mott||40-1|
|Ride On Curlin||Daniel J. Dougherty||William Gowan||5-1|
|Samraat||My Meadowview Farm||Richard Violette, Jr.||20-1|
|Social Inclusion||Rontos Racing Stable||Manuel Azpurua||33-1|
|Tonalist||Robert S. Evans||Christophe Clement||15-2|
|Wicked Strong||Centennial Farm||James Jerkens||9-1|
belmontstakes.com. Odds via OddsShark as of 6/1/14 at 3p.m. ET
Note: Odds courtesy of Odds Shark.
Looking for a massive payout on a rather safe bet? Look no further than Matuszak, even if the odds suggest the event in New York will be quite the struggle for the horse and jockey Mike Smith.
But Smith is what makes Matuszak such a safe bet. The Hall of Famer is well known for getting the most out of seemingly any horse he mounts, and if his title and reputation are not enough, he enters New York as the defending champ after riding Palace Malice to victory last year.
For the cherry on top, the duo have looked great all week in practice. While this is not normally a major factor, Matuszak's good sessions fly in the face of conventional wisdom that says he is a long shot. Mike Welsch of Daily Racing Form has the scoop:
Matuszak impressive this a.m. in blinkers in co. 5/8's 1:00.92, final 1/4 in :23.12 going easy, galloped out strong in 1:13.80.— Mike Welsch (@DRFWelsch) June 1, 2014
It's hard to ignore the odds and even more difficult to go against Smith. If one jockey enters the fray poised to spoil California Chrome's bid at history, it's the seasoned Smith.
There is something to be said for a horse coming into the weekend's event fresh after choosing to skip the Preakness Stakes because of the quick turnaround after the Kentucky Derby.
Samraat is a horse that holds such an advantage, which meshes nicely with the fact momentum is a huge part of horse racing in general.
This underdog has that, too.
Samraat won five races in a row to kick off his career and then rumbled to a fifth-place finish in Kentucky. By all indications, including those from Welsch, the momentum is alive and well with the race approaching:
Samraat breezes easy mile over dullish Aqueduct main in 147.43 dragged rider around to 1/4 pole came home in 24.49 out another 1/8 in 12.17— Mike Welsch (@DRFWelsch) May 31, 2014
If one is to go against California Chrome in search of a better payout, a well-rested horse that skipped the Preakness in order to better prepare for the lengthier Belmont Stakes is the way to go. To that end, Samraat is a top contender.
While three wins in eight starts does not look great on paper, trainer Dale Romans' decision to run Medal Count this weekend is based on the film.
As Romans explained to BloodHorse.com, via ESPN.com, what Medal Count displayed in Kentucky quickly made up his mind about the proceedings in New York:
Coming out of the Derby, I didn't know what I was going to do with him that day. After a couple days, he got back to training and he was doing so well. I went back and watched the Derby two or three times and he obviously should have been right there. He wasn't going to beat the winner but I think he could have possibly been second and obviously been third.
Sports journalist J.J. Hysell summed it up best after it was announced Medal Count would participate:
Well,that changes it up. Medal Count, who encountered substantial traffic issues in the Derby, going to the #BelmontStakes. Look out— J.J. Hysell (@trifectabox) May 27, 2014
Given the longer distance, traffic should not be as big of an issue. Well rested and with jockey Robby Albarado on board—who has been atop Medal Count for five of his eight starts—it is easy to see why the underdog is such a noteworthy bet.
Note: All info courtesy of Belmont Stakes' website unless otherwise specified.