American Pharoah, aiming to become the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown and the first since Affirmed in 1978, has 3-5 odds to accomplish the feat after Wednesday's post positions draw for the Belmont Stakes.
You can see the full field and odds below.
|2015 Belmont Stakes Post Positions|
|Post No.||Horse||Jockey||Trainer||Morning-Line Odds|
|1||Mubtaahij||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Mike de Kock||10-1|
|2||Tale of Verve||Gary Stevens||Dallas Stewart||15-1|
|3||Madefromlucky||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||12-1|
|4||Frammento||Mike Smith||Nick Zito||30-1|
|5||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||Bob Baffert||3-5|
|6||Frosted||Joel Rosario||Kiaran McLaughlin||5-1|
|7||Keen Ice||Kent Desormeaux||Dale Romans||20-1|
|8||Materiality||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||6-1|
The post positions in a smaller field aren't as crucial as they are in the large field at the Kentucky Derby, and you certainly won't find trainer Bob Baffert complaining about the draw for American Pharoah.
"I don't really think there's a horrible post position, but I've always liked the five," he said, via Dan Wolken of USA Today. "More important is that the horse is doing well and so far he looks like he's doing great."
Baffert was less pleased when Pharoah drew the inside post at the Preakness, though of course that didn't matter, as the horse obliterated the field in that race.
And once again, the field stacks up favorably for the Triple Crown hopeful. Frosted finished fourth at the Kentucky Derby and won the Wood Memorial Stakes, but never really challenged the top three contenders at Churchill Downs. Ditto for Materiality, who finished sixth in Kentucky and won the Florida Derby.
Mubtaahij is the other horse returning from the Kentucky Derby, though he finished eighth in that race and, despite being given the fourth-best odds in New York, is a long shot to upset Pharoah.
Granted, this is a field that will be much fresher than Pharoah, as the entire field outside of Tale of Verve sat out the Preakness, and none of the other seven horses in play ran both the Derby and Preakness.
On the other hand, American Pharoah showed a great late push in the Derby and—assuming the wear and tear of the Derby and Preakness isn't too much to overcome—looks like the type of horse well-suited to the 1 1/2-mile track at the Belmont.
Plus, he just has a very natural, fluid stride that may make any concerns about stamina pretty irrelevant. Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated has more on Pharoah's stride:
There are multiple factors that enable a horse—or any living creature—to run fast for a extended period of time (the Belmont will take nearly two-and-a-half minutes). One of those factors is aerobic capacity, but another is efficiency of movement. American Pharoah moves with breathtaking efficiency. His stride is swift and fluid, low to the earth and powerful, with minimal time spent in the air. Human comparisons: Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson ran like this, as did Jesse Owens.
We can talk about race conditions or fatigue or anything else, but truthfully, it would be pretty surprising if Pharoah didn't win the Belmont against a pretty mediocre field. Anything can happen over the 1 1/2 miles, of course, but American Pharoah continues to look like a special horse.
A horse special enough to finally end the Triple Crown drought.