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Belmont Stakes Breakdown
Don’t miss out on Anthony “Big A” Stabile’s horse racing winners for the 2014 Belmont Stakes. Click to win!

The final leg of the "Triple Crown" takes place this Saturday as California Chrome will look to capture the 2014 Belmont Stakes and become the 12th horse to capture the Triple Crown. Anthony Stabile breaks down all 11 runners for the Belmont.

2014 Belmont Stakes Breakdown
PP Horse ML Odds Jockey (Belmont Record) Owner (Belmont Record)
1 Medal Count 20/1 Robby Albarado (0-4) Dale Romans (0-4)
Romans waited until late last week to announce that this colt was running but I think a lot of people, including myself, think he was just looking for attention and to make a splash and figured this horse would be a part of the field. He’s just one for four on conventional dirt and that win came in an off the turf maiden race in his debut at Ellis Park. He’s much better on turf and synthetics and though he has some bright spots in his pedigree for this distance I think he’s a cut below these, maybe more.
2 California Chrome 3/5 Victor Espinoza (0-3) Art Sherman (Debut)
12 is the magic number that surrounds this colt when it comes to his date with destiny this Saturday. Will we have 12 Triple Crown winners when the sun sets Saturday night? Will he be number 12 to fail in their attempt to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978? Will the 12 furlongs be his undoing? As it has been for the past 36 years, that final question is the most important one. So many of the 11 had the lead at the quarter pole, the point where the Kentucky Derby ends. But that last quarter of a mile…….1,320 of the most important feet of his life. It’s there where the men are separated from the boys. Everything, and I mean everything, has gone perfectly for the past two months for this guy. Nothing and no horse have been able to stop him. But the worm may have turned a bit at the draw. He gets stuck in post 2 and Social Inclusion opts to run on the undercard and not in here. There really isn’t any clear cut speed in here and I wouldn’t be surprised if he found himself on the lead. Maybe for once, he’ll be forced to do some heavy lifting, especially in the early going. I think there is a horse that can stop him in here but ultimately I think it will be the added distance. The Triple Crown will go unclaimed for another year. As for wagering purposes, I’ll be using him on the bottom end of my gimmicks but not on top.
3 Matterhorn 30/1 Joe Bravo (0 for 2) Todd Pletcher (2-16)
He was recently sold to the connections of third place Kentucky Derby finisher Danza so it’s almost like he’s pinch hitting. They even put Bravo on him, Danza’s jockey. He’s eligible for an entry level allowance contest but it’s the Belmont Stakes. You might as well be ambitious and hope he wants that added distance. If he doesn’t, that allowance race will be waiting for him at the end of the month. Pletcher won this in 2007 with the fantastic filly Rags to Riches and last year with Palace Malice. He’s looking to become the first trainer to win consecutive Belmonts since his old boss D. Wayne Lukas did it three years in a row from 1994 to 1996. With all of that said, I don’t like him for a penny.
4 Commanding Curve 15/1 Shaun Bridgmohan (Debut) Dallas Stewart (0-3)
He’s one of the more popular answers to “If you don’t like California Chrome then who do you like?” A hard charging second in the Derby he has trained brilliantly the past five weeks. He’s fresh and it certainly it appears like he’s going to love the distance. But here is the problem with horses like him, deep closers: they don’t win the Belmont Stakes!! I know common sense dictates that if they come running at the end of a 1 ¼ mile race they’ll surely appreciate the extra quarter of a mile but there is very little place for common sense when it comes to horse racing. Can he get a piece of the pie? Absolutely. Can he win? Well, he would need the race to completely fall into his lap. I’ll use him on the bottom of my gimmicks but not on top.
5 Ride On Curlin 12/1 John Velazquez (2-17) Billy Gowan (Debut)
After a magical mystery tour courtesy of Calvin Borel in the Derby, things went a bit better in the Preakness, though Borel gave him the business early on aboard Ria Antonia, the main reason this guy was so far back. Despite the early annoyances, this colt came running on late and appeared to be a real threat to California Chrome turning for home. He, of course, never got to him but he should did put a bit of a scare into all of the Chromie Homie’s. His sire just missed in this in 2007 when he was beat by Rags to Riches, who was ridden by his new pilot Johnny V. Velazquez came back to win this again aboard Union Rags in 2012 and knows Belmont better than anyone. A lot of people say this is a riders’ race. If that’s the case, he may very well be in the best hands. I don’t think he’ll win but I would not be surprised if he did. Using him in all of my gimmicks.
6 Matuszak 30/1 Mike Smith (2 for 15) Bill Mott (1-5)
The team the brought you 2010 upset Belmont winner Drosselmeyer at 13-1 bring you an even bigger longshot here. Smith came back to win aboard Palace Malice last year and is looking to become the first jockey to win consecutive runnings of this since Laffit Pincay, Jr. did it three years in a row from 1982-1984. I’m the biggest Mott fan around and even I’m having trouble finding something good to say. He’s a plodder and I guess they’re hoping to grab a piece of it but I think it’s a stretch.
7 Samraat 20/1 Jose Ortiz (Debut) Rick Violette, Jr. (0-2)
Perhaps the New York-bred will stand up and defend his turf from the invading Californian looking for immortality. Hell, if things can go all Hollywood for the West Coast folks why not for the hometown hero? I know one thing, if this thing turns into a street fight on the far turn, this guy will be tough to get rid of. His biggest issue is getting to that point. I feel like he was one of a few in Louisville that didn’t have any trouble, he just didn’t fire in the lane. With the lack of speed in here, I’m also wondering if they revert to his old running style and put him in front. Too many question marks for me to endorse but I wouldn’t mind him getting some revenge for fellow New Yorker, Funny Cide.
8 Commissioner 20/1 Javier Castellano (0-7) Todd Pletcher (2-16)
As it is every year, the biggest question these horses all have to answer is whether they’ll handle the distance of “The Test of the Champion” or not. One thing is for sure….if this race was based on pedigree, it would be all over and they’d declare this guy the champ now. He’s by A.P. Indy, who was by Seattle Slew and out of a Touch Gold mare. All three of those horses won the Belmont!!! All three!!! You get Castellano and Pletcher, you’re defending Eclipse champs in the jockey and trainer and trainer categories, at a price that will likely be in the 20-1 range on a horse that Pletcher has given every opportunity to show he belongs. The talent is there, he just needs that proverbial late bulb to go off. I’m not willing to bet that it’ll happen Saturday but I will use him in my gimmicks and will tell you that if you’re one of these people that just like to play the longer shots, this is your guy.
9 Wicked Strong 6/1 Rajiv Maragh (0-3) Jimmy Jerkens (0-2)
In 2000, Commendable became the first horse EVER to win the Belmont having last raced in the Kentucky Derby. Since then, it’s happened six more times. This year, Medal Count, Commanding Curve, Samraat and this colt will try to bump that number up. And when you look closely, Wicked Strong may have the best chance of them all. After a huge win in the Wood Memorial, he stumbled at the start, found some traffic trouble early and was stuck behind a wall of horses late from post 20 in the Derby last out, yet still kept coming to finish fourth. It’s funny to me that no one has even mentioned that fact that he probably bounced a bit in the Derby, which would set him up perfectly for a career best effort she he take that step forward. He’s had five weeks to get ready for this from the comforts of his own stall over a track he loves for a trainer who comes from one of the greatest racing families the game has ever seen. When a guy named Jerkens leads a horse over to the paddock, especially going a distance of ground, you can be sure they’ll be fit. I think he’ll be right there at the finish. Using him in all of my wagers.
10 General a Rod 20/1 Rosie Napravnik (0-2) Mike Maker (0-1)
Another who was a little late coming to the party, I’m wondering if his connections sensed that there would be a lack of clear cut speed in here if Social Inclusion defected, like he did, and if that was something they could take advantage of. Look, plain and simply the lead is his if he wants it. California Chrome’s people would LOVE a target, I don’t think Samraat’s folks really want to put him on the engine and I don’t see any other true speed type in here. He didn’t have the cleanest trip in the Derby and was stopped cold in the Preakness behind the fast fading filly Ria Antonia and came running late to be fourth. He’d have been much closer with a better trip. Again, my biggest issue with him is the distance. I don’t think he can get it and think the only shot he has a chance at getting any kind of piece is by stealing it on the front end. I’m passing but he may wind up being the most important piece of the Belmont puzzle this year.
11 Tonalist 8/1 Joel Rosario (0-3) Christophe Clement (0-1)
His biggest claim to fame is his Peter Pan win over a suspect bunch over a sloppy track he’s bred to love. He dragged Rosario to the lead that day and pretty much improved at every point of call. He has just a maiden win from three other starts but was second to Constitution in the Gulfstream “allowance race to end all allowance races” back on the Fountain of Youth undercard. His PPs aren’t super-imposing by any means. But these eyes know the real deal when they see it and he’s the real deal. His rider seemed to think so considering he gave Clement a two race call for the Peter Pan AND Belmont having not been on his back in almost six months. Speaking of Clement, sure he’s better known as a trainer of turf horses but the one thing you surely need when training a turf is to build stamina. He’s a fantastic trainer, period, and he’s brimming with confidence. I love his outside draw because he can see how it all plays out inside of him and make a decision from there. I truly think he’s the one that stops history from happening. My pick to win the Belmont Stakes.

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