Player Quick Picks: 2014 Belmont Stakes

Molly Jo Rosen

June 7th, 2014

We decided to poll the #TeamBetAmerica bloggers because... well... that's the whole fun of pari-mutuel wagering right? It's basically Your Money Versus My Money in the pools, so let's see who would play what in the 146th Belmont Stakes:

Molly Jo Rosen

I've so carefully avoided this question all week because I'm wary of seeming like it's a sentimental play. Here's the thing: 2-California Chrome is a special horse. Does that mean he wins the Triple Crown with a victory today? I don't know. He's sitting on a six-race win streak by a combined 27-1/2 lengths: it's inevitable that he will throw a clunker (I made this same statement about Orb last year after the Derby). Do I want to see a Triple Crown? Absolutely. Is this the horse? I'll quote Baffert from this week: if Chrome breaks clean, it's likely all over.

It's actually easier for me to toss horses I don't like: both M's (-atterhorn and -atuszak) are overmatched, Commissioner just doesn't like to win, General a Rod needs class relief but could turn out to be a really neat horse, Wicked Strong has tons of ability but just hasn't quite figured out how to make the mornings match the afternoons consistently, and - I'm sorry - I just don't get all the love for Tonalist besides him being good looking and in off the win.

I'm gonna take Chrome on top because - well - I just think he does it. That means we're playing exotics to make some money, so I'd use him with:

1-Medal Count: he was my Derby pick, but this is the race he was bred to run ~ when I think marathon pedigree, I want a Dynaformer ~ and voila! Toss the Derby for the ridiculous trip and remember that he is a winner on dirt: yes it was on debut and sprinting, but it was emphatic.

4-Commanding Curve: I don't think the pace sets up the same for him like it did in the Derby, but Bridgmohan is the key here ~ every time Shaun's been up, the horse has run a big one.

5-Ride On Curlin: still the most consistent 3yo colt not named California Chrome. He's an absolute direct hit of Storm Cat (his damsire): similar look, similar race record, similar antics. That he'll run his race is the only guarantee in this race: where that puts him when the winner crosses the finish line is up to the racing gods.

7-Samraat: People are forgetting this horse because he's lost the last two starts. But this NY-bred started his career with 5 straight victories and he's got the speed to go with Tonalist.

Matt Carter

2-California Chrome has sat beautiful trips in both his Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins and that will not change in the Belmont Stakes.  He is surround in the gate by slow breakers and the speed drew outside posts.

5-Ride On Curlin finished second to California Chrome in the Preakness, but he has yet to win a race greater than six furlongs.  The Dallas Stewart-trained Commanding Curve finished second to California Chrome in the Derby, duplicating the feat of his stable mate Golden Soul in 2013.  Golden Soul then finished 9th in the Belmont behind Palace Malice, the favorite for this year's Met Mile, which is two races prior to the Belmont.

8-Commissioner looks a lot like Drosselmeyer, who won the Belmont for the same owners in 2010.  Drosselmeyer displayed ability in his previous starts and put it all together after a second place finish in a prep race over the track a month prior.  Commissioner just finished second in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont one month ago; exacta chance at a price.

Ryan Dickey

2-CALIFORNIA CHROME is a special horse.  I’ve seen race models that suggest he’s the winner up to 40% of the time in this race.  It’s his race to lose.  There is absolutely no reason to think he’s not prepared.  His pedigree, while not stellar, does NOT preclude him from getting the distance.  My only concern is that Espinoza gives him a bad ride, maybe being placed too far forward, too soon.  Luckily, he has another gear that none of his rivals has shown.  The Belmont is won between the 11th furlong and the finish line, and if he has a five length lead at the top of the stretch, he should hold on.  If he’s going to be pressed late, it’s going to be from

4-COMMANDING CURVE  The Derby runner-up is a strong finisher, and is coming into his own. He will be a very good race horse in this division, but is the unfortunate “second-fiddle” to perhaps the greatest horse in the last 30+ years.  If he’s at California Chrome’s throat latch coming down the stretch, hold on to your hats.

9-WICKED STRONG was my original “Derby horse” before settling on Danza.  He has the pedigree to go all day.  His head, however, may not keep him in the race for all 12 furlongs.  He could swoop in and pick up the pieces if Chrome and any other contender (Commanding Curve, Samraat, or Ride On Curlin) battle at the top of the stretch.  No, you won’t become financially rich by watching Chrome win the Triple Crown, but the experience will be breath-taking.

D.S. Williamson

California Chrome will win the 2014 Belmont Stakes. The reason is because he's simply the best horse in the race. Also, he's got the best style. Pressers usually win the Belmont, not deep closers, which means California Chrome should be able to sit behind Tonalist and then take over whenever Victor Espinoza asks him to.