Belmont Stakes 2015: Dark Horses & Long Shots


Tonalist – 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1)The Triple Crown went unclaimed for a 36th year as Tonalist captured the 146th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park by a head over Commissioner, with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome finishing in a dead-heat for fourth in the "Test of the Champion."2014-06-08T01:12:57Z

It might surprise some people that there are seven other horses in the field for Saturday’s 147th running of the Belmont Stakes.

Despite there being seven other quality horses in the field, all eyes are on American Pharoah who looks to make history. The Belmont stakes is the hardest North American horse race to win because it is a mile-and-a-half. It is a grueling distance for many horses, which is why the 11 horses since 1978 that have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness each failed to win the Belmont Stakes, thus failing to win the Triple Crown.

California chrome entered last year’s Belmont Stakes under the same circumstances, but ran 4th and came up just short. The race’s winner Tonalist won from post-position No. 11 and went off at 9/1.

Here are the Morning Line Odds for the 2015 Belmont Stakes. The odds below were provided by sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com:


Horse: Jockey: Morning Line Odds:
American Pharoah Victor Espinoza  3/5
Frosted Joel Rosario  5/1
Materiality John Velazquez  6/1
Madefromlucky Javier Castellano  12/1
Mubtaahij Irad Ortiz Jr.  10/1
Tale of Verve Gary Stevens  15/1
Keen Ice Kent Desormeaux  20/1
Frammento Mike Smith  30/1

Dark Horses

tonalist

(Getty)

The main competitors for American Pharoah in Saturday’s mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes will be Frosted, Materiality and Madefromlucky.

Frosted was the winner of the 2015 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and ran a strong 4th in the Kentucky Derby behind American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund. Dortmund and Firing Line floundered a bit on a sloppy track for the Preakness as American Pharoah outclassed both in the “rematch” so to speak. Frosted is a New York bred horse who has had experience working at Belmont Park before. In Heavy’s Early Picks, Frosted was acknowledged as the chief competition.

Materiality’s speed figures heading into the Kentucky Derby were outstanding and remained relatively well after a 5th place finish in the race. After skipping the Preakness to keep the horse fresh, Todd Pletcher is looking for his 3rd Belmont Stakes victory (Rags to Riches in 2007 and Palace Malice in 2013). Materiality’s toughest test will be the distance. as a horse that has accumulated less races and mileage than the other top choices in the field, it’s imperative that Materiality stick to the pace, rather than set it and tire himself out.

Madefromlucky is the wild card in the Belmont Stakes. Ridden by Javier Castellano — who had a big decision to make between Materiality and Madefromlucky, both Pletcher trained horses — Madefromlucky won the 2015 Grade 2 Peter Pan in early May at Belmont Park, the same race that 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist won as his main prep race last year.

Those will primarily be the 2nd, 3rd and 4th betting choices and other-than American Pharoah picks for Saturday’s race. The other horses are more than likely set to go off at least 12/1.

The real dark horse in the race is Keen Ice who goes off at post-position No. 7. Keen Ice is trained by Dale Romans and ridden by jockey Kent Desormeaux — one of the few active jockeys with three Kentucky Derby victories (Victor Espinoza and Calvin Borel). There are three main reasons why Keen Ice figures to be a good selection: 1. He’s currently sitting at 20/1, 2. His grandfather is Awesome Again (a Canadian Hall of Fame horse by Deputy Minister who has also sired recent horses like Oxbow and Ghostzapper), 3. He’s owned by Donegal Racing who invest in distance-type of horses.


Long Shots

tonalist

Tonalist won the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes in 2014. (Getty)

Sitting at the back of the pack are Tale of Verve and Frammento. Between both horses, Tale of Verve figures to be more of a factor in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Trainer Nick Zito was just thrilled that Frammento made a last-minute cut to get into the Kentucky Derby. I bet Zito is even more thrilled that Frammento has the chance to run in the Preakness. He’s the longest shot on the board and the odds reflect that.

A jockey change to Hall of Famer Gary Stevens helps, as well as the encouraging run to nab a 2nd place finish in the Preakness despite awful track conditions due to the down-pouring rain that started just minutes before the race.

Tale of Verve came on late, but the Belmont Stakes is an incredibly tough race for closing horses because of the grueling pace and distance. However, for 37 years, 11 horses have gotten the better of 11 other Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners, so it can be done.

The two best betting values in the race are Keen Ice and Tale of Verve, but both pale in comparison to the talent of American Pharoah.


For news and updates before the 147th Belmont Stakes, follow the official Twitter account: @BelmontStakes and to purchase tickets for Saturday’s event that will have American Pharoah looking to become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, click the link in the following tweet:

Coverage of the Belmont Stakes begins at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon on NBC.