This Saturday looks to be historic as American Pharoah looks to be the first horse to capture the Triple Crown since Affirmed did so in 1978. The $1.5 million Belmont Stakes goes as Race 11 on Saturday at Belmont Park with a 5:50 PM Central post time and will be carried live by NBC.
The entire weekend at Belmont is full of stakes action with strong cards leading up to the Saturday feature, but the Belmont itself didn’t come up overly strong as a field of eight is set to head to the gate. The weather forecast is for a slight chance of morning rain both Friday and Saturday in Elmont, New York.
Last year the world watched as California Chrome looked to capture the elusive Triple Crown. Following his fourth-place effort while never contending, the focus turned to the post-race comments of one of his owners, Steve Coburn as he wasn’t quite so eloquent in that moment of defeat. Will this year be another upset, or will we see a Triple Crown winner? My prediction is that history will be made. I expect American Pharoah will add his name to the history books on Saturday.
Looking at the field for Saturday’s Belmont, a couple of things jumped off the page at me. Initially was the size, or lack thereof, of the field with only eight entered in the Belmont. More importantly though is that the Belmont Stakes is completely lacking of pace. Both of these should only benefit American Pharoah in his Triple Crown bid.
American Pharoah has been very solid throughout his entire stakes career, never losing in stakes-company. His Kentucky Derby victory was the closest margin of victory he has had, winning by a length, while every other win has been by three of more lengths.
Experience can only help American Pharoah’s chances in the Belmont as Victor Espinoza is back in the saddle. Espinoza has been in this situation twice, with War Emblem and California Chrome. Each time he came of short, but the third time could be the charm. Espinoza clearly is not afraid of the big stage and his decision making ability aboard American Pharoah has been perfect.
With no pace in the Belmont, I am fully expecting that Espinoza and American Pharoah head straight for the lead and look to slow the pace down early. Materiality appears to be the only horse that may sit close while the remainder of the field likely settles back off the pace. While the mile and a half distance of the Belmont is the most taxing of the Triple Crown races, in this case it may not matter as the opening three quarters could be a walk in the park.
My expectations are that Materiality tosses in the towel in the turn while Espinoza opens the lead into the stretch under a hand ride. With the likes of Mubtaahij, Frosted and Madefromlucky to likely be running on late, they may be in a race for place as 90,000 fans onsite at Belmont cheer home a Triple Crown champ.
American Pharoah will meet his destiny on Saturday at Belmont.