History will be set in Elmont, New York, on June 7 whether or not California Chrome gallops to the first Triple Crown in 36 years.
With $1.5 million on the line for the 2014 Belmont Stakes, the track will see a lucrative set of 13 races in total and 10 stakes races on the card, including six Grade 1 events. The combined purses for all races total $8 million, which will set a Belmont Park record.
As New York Racing Association president Chris Kay stated on Feb. 7, according to Bloodhorse.com: "We've put together the finest day of racing in Belmont Stakes history...We wanted to create a day that would grab people's attention in classic, bigger-than-life New York style. We want to give people every reason to come out and be a part of the excitement."
|Race No.||Name of Stakes Race||Post Time (ET)||Purse|
|2||Easy Goes||12:07 p.m.||$150,000|
|3||Brooklyn Invitational||12:40 p.m.||$500,000|
|4||Jaipur Invitational||1:16 p.m.||$300,000|
|5||Woody Stephens||1:54 p.m.||$500,000|
|6||TVG Acorn||2:32 p.m.||$750,000|
|7||Ogden Phipps||3:14 p.m.||$1 million|
|8||Longines Just a Game||4:00 p.m.||$750,000|
|9||Metropolitan||4:48 p.m.||$1.25 million|
|10||Knob Creek Manhattan||5:42 p.m.||$1 million|
|11||Belmont Stakes||6:52 p.m.||$1.5 million|
(Undercard lineup information available at NYRA.com)
Reading between the lines, the goal for Kay and the NYRA clearly seems to consist of making the day of the Belmont Stakes a big-money attraction regardless of whether there is a chance of a Triple Crown winner or not.
With California Chrome pursuing the rare triple, the track will see even more juice than usual, but the procession of big purses sets up a unique attraction for racing fans, Triple Crown or not.
Renown trainer Todd Pletcher lost his Belmont Stakes starter after Intense Holiday sustained a condylar fracture, but he opted to enter long shot Matterhorn instead, along with Commissioner.
Pletcher stands a distinctly better chance in the other races, however, with a shot at possibly winning every single one.
Todd Pletcher has 18 horses entered in the 13 races at Belmont on Saturday. He has at least one horse in every race.— David Grening (@DRFGrening) June 4, 2014
The "Met Mile," or the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap, sees Pletcher's Palace Malice looking to continue this year's dominance, which has already produced three wins. If that name sounds familiar, it's because Palace Malice won last year's Belmont Stakes, but he also drew the inside post for the race to the chagrin of his trainer.
However, according to Bloodhorse.com, Goldencents could pose the toughest opposition after running to a "sensational win" in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Normandy Invasion, Central Banker, Clearly Now, Shakin It Up and Moreno round out a very strong field for that race.
When asked if he's concerned about the rail post in #MetMile for Palace Malice, Todd Pletcher responds, "Very."— J.J. Hysell (@trifectabox) June 4, 2014
The $1 million Ogden Phipps Stakes offers up champion filly Beholder, winner of five out of seven starts, three of them Grade 1 races, in 2013. Pletcher's Sylmar, who won several Grade 1 races last year including the Kentucky Oaks, poses the chief competition.
The $1 million Knob Creek Manhattan Stakes will feature rising stud Imaging, who claimed the Grade 1 Man o' War at Belmont Park just a few weeks prior.
Keep an eye on the $500,000 Woody Stephens, where Social Inclusion will run as the favorite for first after finishing third in this year's Preakness.
The eyes of casual fans will wait until the early evening to fixate on the running of the Belmont Stakes and California Chrome's pursuit of the first Triple Crown since 1978.
However, race fanatics and bettors will delight in a Saturday packed with lucrative-stakes races that will set a new Belmont Park record and establish the annual event as a stand-alone attraction on the calendar, regardless of future outcomes at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.