Once again, California Chrome has the best odds heading into a Triple Crown race. The 2014 Belmont Stakes essentially boils down to a race between the headlining horse and a dozen other competitors eager to dethrone the California-bred colt.
California Chrome may make every oddsmaker look like a modern-day Nostradamus, but that doesn't mean they peg every horse in the field with the correct betting lines.
Commanding Curve faced some of the longest odds heading into the Kentucky Derby but ran an incredible race and finished in second place. When it comes to the actual business of running the thoroughbreds, the odds are forgotten as soon as the gates are thrown open.
Here are the complete odds for the 13 horses looking to take home the August Belmont Trophy.
|Ride On Curlin||5-1|
|General a Rod||N/A (late entry, odds not updated)|
(Note: Odds courtesy of Odd Shark and updated as of Monday, June 2.)
California Chrome's odds remain decidedly even, and he has yet to give observers a reason to doubt him. He will be looking for his seventh straight victory at the Belmont Stakes, a feat nearly as impressive as closing out the Triple Crown itself.
He's been one of the strongest horses seen in this sport in some time, and his ability to hit the top of the home stretch at a full gallop is breathtaking. His eminently quotable owner, Steve Coburn, can't quite believe his good fortune at times, as per Jerry Bossert of the New York Daily News:
"I don’t think people understand how it happens,” said Coburn. “I don’t understand it. We hit the lottery. The stars, the moon and the universe lined up.”
Plenty of observers are bullish on Ride On Curlin's chances. Daily Racing Form's Mike Welsch compared his strong training runs to those of California Chrome.
Rider had big hold on Ride On Curlin coming to wire nearing conclusion of his gallop, like Chrome he's ready to work, breezes tomorrow a.m.— Mike Welsch (@DRFWelsch) May 31, 2014
Ride On Curlin caught everyone's attention when he closed down the gap on California Chrome in the Preakness Stakes. The late show of strength gives the runner-up at Pimlico 5-1 odds heading into the showdown in New York.
Ride On Curlin has some anatomical deficiencies, but that didn't stop trainer Billy Gowan from falling in love with his athletic frame as a yearling.
“I liked the way he looked,” Gowan told Tom Pedulla of The New York Times. “I liked the way he walked. He had the body of an athlete. He looked like a runner, and usually when they look that way, they are.”
He looks that way due to the strong runner in his bloodlines; his sire is Curlin, a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year (2007, 2008).
Medal Count faces fairly long odds at 14-1, but he's in the upset discussion thanks to his solid performance at the Derby and second-place finish at the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes (Grade 1) on April 12.
He's been training well in preparation for the Belmont Stakes, but as Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee reports, he has yet to ship out from Churchill Downs to New York.
That lack of familiarity with the Belmont track seemed discouraging to InTheMoneyPost.com's J.J. Hysell, but he did note that Medal Count is definitely made for the 1 1/2-mile race on Saturday.
Medal Count trained great on CD surface, but that's home track. Unsure how he'll take to Belmont, but no doubt this is a 12 furlong runner.— J.J. Hysell (@trifectabox) May 27, 2014
Which horse with long odds has the best chance at a surprise finish at the Belmont Stakes?
California Chrome's biggest challenge in this race may be overcoming fatigue over the long course in Elmont, New York. Several horses in the field—such as Commanding Curve, Ride on Curlin and Tonalist—have demonstrated the ability to make late pushes in Grade 1 and Grade 2 races.
Fortunately for California Chrome, he will be paired once again with jockey Victor Espinoza. They were paired together for the first two legs of the Triple Crown, and Espinoza should be able to make a good read on California Chrome's strength during the final stretch of the race. If he can time his move perfectly, California Chrome should be able to hold off the challengers in this field and claim victory in the final race of the Triple Crown.