Saturday, June 27, 2015

Round Through Transitions

I had yet another fantastic ride earlier this week.  Lucky was round much more consistently, and most importantly, I was able to keep her round through transitions, which was a lot of work.  I again rode her western.

 I lunged her, then started by working on a trot circle to right after I had mounted.  Immediately, I began asking for roundness and an inside flexion.  My hands were much more steady than usual, and I was able to keep her consistently round, rather than round or only a few strides, which is amazing.  To prepare for an exercise I would do later, I worked through a lot of transitions.  I tried to keep her round through the transitions.  It is very difficult, because while riding a transition I had to be actively flexing and I had to stop her from leaning on my hands.  This was most difficult in the trot-walk transitions.  Downward transitions require just the right amount of leg so that the horse remains round.

Lucky in her western gear

 Lucky leaned a lot during the trot-walk transition, so I needed to use the right combination of leg(to keep her round and get her off my hands) and seat(to slow her).  Often, I needed to give her a kick during the transition to tell her, "Don't lean on my hands."  Then I would slow her.  This often resulted in a few dribbling jog strides into the walk, but Laura said that it was more important at this point that Lucky stays round through the transition.  After some work, I was able to consistently keep her round through the trot-walk transition.  I had taught her that I expect her to stay round.

 Roundness through the walk-trot transition came later.  I didn't have to deal with leaning in the upward transition, but I still had to flex her while she made the transition.  Finally, I got it.  I now have a feel of what it feels like to flex through the transition to keep Lucky round.  It certainly is a step forward in my progress as a rider.
After her bath

 Next, I did a very challenging exercise: a serpentine with a few walk strides between each change of direction. This may not sound very difficult, but it is because it takes a lot of preparation and thought.  I had difficultly getting a sharp trot-walk transition.  Either Lucky would walk only after passing centerline(I wanted her to walk over) or she would jog really slowly and never walk.  I needed to ask very early for the walk, as soon as I rounded the bend of the circle and began making a one toward centerline.  Most if the exercise went by with me struggling to get it right.  I also needed to ask for a more bold trot to show more difference between between the walk and the trot.  At last, all the hard work and focus paid off.  I had several real well-timed walk transitions, and a big trot. Laura decided to end on this good note, because both Lucky and I had done very well. I cooled her down outside of the arena.

What went well:

  • Consistently round
  • Steady hands
  • Roundness through transitions
Also,  check out this contest from Karley.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

First Real Trail Ride!

 I just went on my first ever trail ride! Although I ridden outside of the arena many times, this time was the first time that I left the property and ridden on a road. Because it was my first time, and Lucky's first time in a while, I rode in a western saddle so that I would be more secure. Safety is always most important!

 I lunged Lucky for a few minutes before I rode, like I always do. Then Laura and I rode around her property once before setting out on the road. We had to ride down the asphalt road a little ways before reaching the dirt road, but it is a small road and we didn't encounter any cars on the way to the dirt road.

 Throughout the ride, I mainly focused on getting Lucky to be forward and in front of my leg, something that is difficult for her. Before we even reached the dirt road, I began to fall behind. Laura waited for me this time, but for the rest of the ride I had to either stay beside Laura, or ahead of her. It was difficult. BB, who Laura was riding, has a very big, forward walk, while Lucky is just the opposite. I fell a little bit behind Laura quite a few times. Sometimes, when I asked Lucky to lengthen her stride to keep up with Laura, Lucky would shuffle forward in the jog instead. This is undesirable, because dressage horses shouldn't take short, shuffling strides. Laura told me that when trying to catch up, Lucky should take either large, marching walk strides or trot forward boldly, not jog. It was easier to keep up later on in the trail ride. Lucky enjoys being out on the trails, and began walking more forward. A few times throughout the ride, we trotted.
The beginning of the road

 I also worked on getting Lucky round by softly squeezing one of the reins to flex her, moving my hands toward the bit to give her a release whenever she became round. Periodically, Laura and I would allow our mounts to stretch. When we did this, we wouldn't just release the reins to full length. Instead, Laura told me to make sure Lucky was round first. Then, I would release the reins to the buckle, encouraging Lucky to stretch down. Though I can get a horse round for brief moments, I still can't keep them round for long. After a few strides of being round, Lucky would raise her head or get slightly behind the vertical. If Lucky got behind the bit, I added more leg. Adding more leg is usually the answer if anything goes wrong. Toward the end of the ride, I felt some of the moments when Lucky was about to come up, and flexed before she made that mistake.

 Though I was doing all this schooling throughout the ride, it was still exciting. I love being out of the arena, and so does Lucky. Being out of the arena is relaxing and fun, and there was always something exciting to look. We came across a herd of Haflingers and other horses in a pasture beside the road. There were even some ground squirrels and a rabbit. The trail that we took leads to the back part of Whiffletree Ranch, the ranch that the spring's driving show was at.

At one point, we came across a few barking dogs. Fortunately, Lucky didn't react to this at all. She is a very levelheaded horse, and in all the time I have ridden and worked with her, she hasn't once spooked. This makes her very reliable and safe on the trail, and I am very confident riding her on the trail.

 Not long after passing the dogs, we turned around. We didn't do much trotting on the way back. About halfway back, we stopped at the top of a ridge and beheld an amazing view of a large, golden, tree covered hill in the distance. We even saw a group of trees where Laura's house is and a teeny-looking mule in one of her fields. It was amazing how far away everything was, because it hadn't seemed like we had gone very far. It was a really exciting trail, and I can't wait to ride on the trail again.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rhythm and Trail Etiquette

  I've been doing some of the usual work with Laura lately(tacking up and grooming mostly). Last week, I had a short but productive walk lesson on BB, her First Level mule. Laura wanted me to learn rhythm, and because BB has a big, rhythmic walk, she thought it would be best to learn on her. Before getting on, I had to count out the rhythm of BB's walk while Laura rode. I found it difficult to count out the beats of her footfalls, so Laura had me break it down. Each time BB's right front hit the ground, I said the word "tic." Once I found that rhythm, I began saying it twice as fast, counting the beat of both front legs.

 At last I mounted, riding without stirrups. BB's walk is quite different than Lucky's. BB has long, reaching strides, while Lucky usually takes slower, smaller strides. I entered the arena and began to say "tic" each time one of BB's shoulders came forward. Though I had to glance down at first, I could feel each stride once I started. As I rode, Laura had me play around with changing the length of BB's strides just by moving my hips. To open up her stride, I let me hips go more forward with each stride. To collect her, I blocked my hips and made smaller movements with them. It's pretty amazing how sensitive horses(and mules) are to slight changes in the rider's body.

 Another day, I rode Lucky around the property with Laura, who was riding BB. I learned about how to safely trail ride so that I could soon ride on the actual trail, a dirt road nearby Laura's ranch. As I rode, I attempted to keep just beside Laura, with my knee at her one, like riding a pas de deux. I had ask Lucky to speed up often, because she slowed down and began falling behind many times. We rode around the entire property, and even through one of the front pastures, which is currently empty. All this prepared me for my first real trail ride, which I will write about soon.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Interview: Eventing 25 Rider Bailey Moran

 Bailey Moran is an up and coming young eventer from Texas. This year, she has moved up to Advanced Level with her Irish Sport Horse, Loughnatousa Caislean(Leo), who she bought as a five-year-old, and she has a goal of someday competing in the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event. She really inspires me because I too dream of competing in the upper levels. To me, riders closer to my age who are just beginning to compete in the upper levels are far more inspiring than those who have been doing it for decades, however great the latter may be. Riders like Bailey make my dream seem even more real and attainable. 

Bailey Moran and Loughnatousa Caislean(Leo)
1. The Aspiring Equestrian: How did you get started in eventing, and did you always dream of reaching the upper levels?
Bailey Moran: My parent's tried absolutely everything. Gymnastics, swimming, dance.. But nothing kept my interest for more than a couple of weeks. My mother finally succumbed and let me try riding lessons when I turned six. Not three lessons in, I told them both that I wanted to go to the Olympics one day-- so upper levels have been on my radar for quite some time!

2. TAE: Which rider(s) have you admired growing up?  Which rider(s) has/have been influential in helping you reach Advanced Level eventing?
BM: I started riding with Donna Kinney when my parents and I moved to San Antonio due to my father's work. I trained with Donna for almost seven years. With her, I moved from beginner novice to intermediate. She taught me to be safe, smart, and to always listen to my horse. She was hard on me when she needed to be, and as proud as could be every time I crossed the finish line. She wakes up every day ready to work harder than the last. I wouldn't be half of the rider I am today without her.

3. TAE: How did you find your horse, Loughnatousa Caislean, and how did you know that he was that special one when you found him?
BM: In August of 2011 I flew to Ireland having absolutely no idea that I'd be coming home with a tall, lanky, uncoordinated five year old. Best decision of my life. He was actually the second choice when my first failed his pre-purchase. Looking back now, I know it was fate. I took him cross country schooling and after less than ten minutes, told my dad "I have never felt this confident on a horse."

4. TAE: What is Leo like around the barn? What is he like to ride, and what are some things you love about him?
BM: Oh dear. Leo is the epitome of a quirky Irishman. It's usually adorable. Sometimes exhausting. For a horse that is absolutely fearless on cross country, he is a gigantic chicken. He's known for his famous snorts of worry or surprise. He's very aware of everything going on around him and can be picky about strangers, but he's pretty easy to win over if you offer him a handful of Sour Patch Kid's. His tack trunk is never without a supply of "SPK's"!

5. TAE: Could you tell me about your first Advanced Level competition? How was it like to accomplish something you have dreamed about for so long?
BM: Well I don't know if "accomplish" is the right word. We made it around 90% of the show! I was ecstatic to be through with dressage and it's hard not to feel confident going into show jumping with Leo. He's practically allergic to wood-- I really have to mess up to knock anything down! If poles do fall, it's never his fault. I hate to admit how nervous I was going into cross country. I blame my RF on that-- I was just too tense, so when I missed a stride and he jumped anyway(because he's a saint), I just popped off.

Bailey Moran and Leo on cross country
6. TAE: Not too long ago, you earned your way onto the Eventing 25 Developing Rider List. Could you tell me about this program? How has this improved your riding?
BM: The Eventing 25 program is incredible! Leslie is a fantastic trainer with more knowledge than I can fathom. It's hard not to stand in awe of his wisdom when attending the sessions. He takes our training to a whole new level and focuses in on the details that we don't always remember to emphasize. Plus, he has some pretty hilarious stories!

7. TAE: How do you prepare yourself and Leo for an upper level event?
BM:  I try not to, haha! I always try to get our schedule planned out a couple of weeks in advance so that it's just another day, even as the event approaches. It keeps me from getting nervous which in turn keeps him relaxed. As we get more experienced I'm getting more comfortable and gaining confidence, but I still try to think about the events as little as possible for my own sanity!

8. TAE: So far, what has been your most memorable experience riding and competing in eventing?
BM: This past April, Leo and I jumped clear around the CCI2* at the Ocala International. It was a phenomenal feeling crossing those finish flags in show jumping after adding only some time on the course to our dressage score. He was so flawless all weekend that I was nearly in tears. It was a huge show with a taxing course. I was unbelievably proud of our finish.

9. TAE: What are your goals for this season and beyond?
BM: This year I'm headed to KY to ride in the CCI2* at NAJYRC. Leo will get a nice break after running there and then come back for AECs. In December I'm heading to California to work with Tamie Smith for a few months. I'm really hoping to move up to Advanced(again) and run a CIC3* before I come back to Texas. Ultimately I'm crossing my fingers to qualify for Rolex. Only time will tell when everything will fall into place!

Bailey and Leo show jumping 
10. TAE: What challenges have you faced in working toward the upper levels? What advice do you for a young rider who aspires to reach Advanced Level?
BM: Plans don't always go the way you hope they will. You have to roll with the punches and keep your head up. Kick on. Be strong, brave, and positive. Something I've struggled with-- and still struggle with --is feeling like I'm good enough. It's easy to look at all the names on an entry list and suddenly feel so small and insignificant. At the end of the day, none of it matters. It's about going out with your best friend, trying your hardest, and having a blast doing it.

11. TAE: What do you love most about eventing?
BM: The people. Eventing is one of the most welcoming, supportive, all around kind hearted sports. So many good people are involved in it that it's hard not to come away from a single event having discovered a new lifelong friend. You meet so many different people from so many walks of life-- and you all can identify with each other because of the most wonderful animal to have ever walked the earth; horses.

 I'm wishing Bailey Moran the best of luck with her goal and hope to see her at Rolex next year! If you have any equestrian(rider, equine professional, or other interesting equestrian) that you would like me to interview, please let me know.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Throwback Thursday and Lungeing Lesson

  I don't normally follow any trends like Throwback Thursday, but the coming summer brought back memories Chester, the TB/Percheron gelding I leased last summer, and made me realize how far I have come in a year. When I began leasing him, I was still a "newbie" that couldn't canter, and I didn't even know what "on the bit" was. He was a very hot and challenging horse, teaching me a lot and making me into a brave and confident rider that won't completely lose her head at the challenging behavior of a hot horse. Though it was only a year ago, it seems like a lifetime ago because I have changed so much and have become a much better rider and horsewoman since then. Now my riding is much more fine-tuned and I am more subtle in my aids. I have also learned more of the training aspect of riding. I have learned how to lunge a horse to teach him/her to use his/her body correctly(for dressage but all horses benefit from being round and off the forehand) and to move in an even rhythm.

 For reference, here are a few pictures of the first time I rode Chester. I still had that awkward newbie style because I had only been riding off and on for six months at that point, with rides spaced a week or more apart. Below them are pictures from my last ride on Lucky.

Chester in June 2014


 My most recent lesson with Laura was a ground lesson on lungeing. I was working on getting myself in the correct position while lungeing, as well as getting Lucky to bend to the inside and use her body correctly. The major takeaway was that just like in riding, when my body is correct, it is easy to get Lucky's body to be correct. It took until the end to learn this, but it was a great lesson to learn.

Lucky May 2015

  I started by directing Lucky's thoughts in the direction I wanted her to go. Gently, I pointed her face out and to the left, then let her go out in a small walk circle around me. When I started lungeing her, Lucky was for the most part not really focused on me. She listened, but she wasn't "with" me. I held my hands with my elbows at my side, just like when riding, and squeezed the lunge line to get Lucky to bend her head to the inside. It was important that when I did this, I released the pressure the moment Lucky flexed to the inside so she understood that she had done what I wanted. This was something that I had to do almost every other stride throughout the lesson.

Lungeing Lucky the other day

  I found throughout the lesson that I kept getting behind the driveline. In other words, I was not in the position that I should be relative to the horse when lungeing, which is across from the saddle. There is a fine line of where to stand. Standing in front of that line blocks the horse and slows her down; standing behind it drives her forward. I was told to fix my position multiple times, but towards the end I began to notice it myself. The reason I bring this up is because position plays an essential in riding and lungeing. When I was correct in my position, both when riding and when lungeing, it was easier for Lucky to become correct in her position, balanced, and soft. It was one of those revelatory moments when things just click. You might be thinking " Well, duh. " Even so, I think it is amazing how rider and horse balance are interconnected. The rider's balance affects the horse's balance.


 When Lucky was correct in her body, it just felt amazing. She was soft in my hand and moving freely in her body. Of course, this didn't happen the entire time. Mostly, it happened in brief moments. It was(and is) important that I waited until these moments to ask for a transition, down or up. Staying round through transitions is important because it builds the correct muscles, and also because you don't want the horse hollow through the transitions. Many horses and riders struggle with this. Of course to stay round through a transition the horse needs to be round in the first place, so I waited until one of those moments when Lucky became round to ask for any transition, up or down.

Lucky is bending her neck here

 It can be difficult to know when a horse is correct in her body. However, one trait that Laura has told me  I have is "feel." I can feel when both the horse and I are right in our bodies, even if I don't know exactly how to make things right. I could tell when Lucky was balanced and correct in her position, so I when I was ready to ask her canter, I waited until I saw that she balanced.

 I also tried to be as do as little as possible when asking her to trot and canter, and only needed to touch the ground with the whip to encourage her once or twice. The lesson was very productive, and I'm so happy how things just clicked. Position and balance affect your horse too, and for the better if you are in balance.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

American Pharoah Becomes the First Triple Crown Winner Since Affirmed

History was made today when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown the first horse to do so since Affirmed 37 years ago. The air was thick with anticipation today before the race American Pharoah was the second horse in a consecutive year to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Last year, California Chrome, a horse loved by racing and non-racing fans alike, won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but fell short of winning the Belmont Stakes. Chrome had been injured coming out of the starting gates and was boxed in early on and placed fourth. Tonalist, trained by Todd Pletcher, won the Belmont Stakes in 2014. 

American Pharoah is owned by Ahmed Zayat. When Pharoah was a yearling, Zayat had brought the colt to an auction to be sold. however, eh ended up buying the horse back excuse he believed that Pharoah would be a good horse. 

 American Pharoah’s jockey, Victor Espinoza, was the first jockey in history to be in a position to win the win the Triple Crown in consecutive years. In fact, this was the third time he would be riding a horse in the Belmont that had won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. In 2002, he attempted to ride War Emblem to a Triple Crown victory. Unfortunately, War Emblem had stumbled coming out of the starting gates and lost to Sarava. In 2014, the year before American Pharoah competed in the Belmont, Victor Espinoza rode California Chrome in all three Triple Crown races. California Chrome had won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but placed fourth in the Belmont Stakes to Tonalist.

Victor celebrating after winning the Triple Crown. credit
 Victor was not the only one to have yet another chance at winning the Triple Crown after failing several times. American Pharoah’s trainer, Bob Baffert, had trained three other horses that have won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. In 1997, Silver Charm won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes by a head. He started started the Belmont nicely, but went too wide on the first turn and was defeated by Touch Gold. The next year, Real Quiet also came close to winning the Triple Crown. His rival, Victory Gallop, had been second in both races and challenged Real Quiet in the Belmont Stakes. Real Quiet took the lead with 3/8 of a mile to go, followed closely by Victory Gallop. The race ended in a photo finish. Victory Gallop won by a nose. In 2002, War Emblem, ridden by Victor Espinoza, entered the Belmont Stakes with hope of winning the Triple Crown. However he fell to his knees coming out of the starting gates, finishing second to Sarava. When Baffert first saw Pharoah, he had known that Pharoah would be a great horse, and he was right.

 The pressure was on for American Pharoah, with so many people believing in him, including myself.  Before the race began, I had predicted the finishing order as follows: American Pharoah first, Frosted second, and Materiality third. With how well American Pharoah has been doing, I just believed that he could succeed where so many others have failed. It seems that Bob Baffert, Victor Espinoza, and owner Ahmed Zayat believed the same thing. Frosted has a impressive and race record, and I believed that he would do well. Materiality was trained by Todd Pletcher, who had trained Tonalist, the horse that defeated California Chrome in the Belmont last year. 

American Pharoah began the race with odds of 3-5. He took an early lead and held it to the finish line. As he galloped effortlessly down the homestretch, he pulled ahead from the pack, winning by five and a half lengths, with Frosted finished second and Keen Ice third. American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. Thirteen horses and tried and failed to accomplish that incredible feat since Affirmed did so in 1978, and that day, American Pharoah did what many thought was impossible. He finished with an incredible time of 2:26.65. I can't describe how incredible it was to watch and how happy I am to see a Triple Crown winner in my lifetime. There is just something indescribably amazing to watch a racehorse do something that was deemed by many asa lost impossible.

have actually written a book about Triple Crown winners, which I will publish when I add American Pharoah to it.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Belmont Stakes 2015 Analysis

  As you may or may not know, I am a huge racing fan. I love to read about famous racehorses of the past, scour over Thoroughbred pedigrees for the names of great races, and most importantly, follow the Triple Crown in hopes that one horse may win in my lifetime. Coming into the Belmont Stakes this weekend, there is excitement in the air. American Pharoah has won both the Derby and the Preakness in excellent form, and yet again we face the possibility of having the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed, who won it 37 years ago. In 2004, Smarty Jones, a horse loved by many, came close to winning the Triple Crown, only to be defeated by Birdstone. Big Brown, who almost everyone rooted for, was denied the right to the Triple Crown in 2008 when he was beat by Da' Tara. Three years ago, I'll Have Another, another horse beloved by racing fans and non-racing fans alike, won both the Derby and the Preakness. He unfortunately scratched just before the Belmont. Last year, we saw California Chrome, a horse that everyone loved and believed in, come short of winning the Triple Crown, finishing fourth to Tonalist. Is American Pharoah better than these horses?

 American Pharoah is by Pioneerof the Nile, out of Littleprincessemma. If you skip back several generations on his sire's side, you will find Unbridled, sire of Unbridled's Song. You will also find Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer five generations back, but they are found in the pedigree of most any horse these days. Bold Ruler, sire of Secretariat, can also be found on his sire's side. Pharoah's dam also has several well know names in her pedigree. Several generations back, you will find Storm Cat, a great grandson of Secretariat. You will also find Exclusive Native and Northern Dancer. In his career, American Pharaoh has raced seven times. Out of those seven times, he has only lost one race, coming fifth in his maiden race last August at Del Mar. After that, he raced at Del Mar once more, this time in a futurity. He won that race, winning a stakes race at Santa Anita after that. This year, he raced only twice before beginning his Triple Crown campaign. Both races were at Oaklawn park, and he won both of them.
American Pharoah in the Preakness Stakes

  This weekend, American Pharoah will attempt to be the twelfth horse in history to win the Triple Crown, the most prestigious event in American horse racing. In the Derby, he stayed near the front of the pack the entire race, pulling into first place in the last few furlongs to make a strong first place finish. He took an early lead in the Preakness Stakes and won by seven lengths, in spite of the muddy track, proving that he can win in all conditions. However, the Belmont will prove the most grueling of all the Triple Crown races at length of a mile and a half. It has earned the nickname "the Graveyard of Champions"  because many horses have won the Derby and the Preakness but failed in the Belmont. In fact, thirteen horses besides American Pharoah have come close to winning the Triple Crown since Affirmed won in 1978. Only seven horses stand between American Pharoah and the Triple Crown. They are: Frammento, Frosted, Keen Ice, Madefromlucky, Materiality, Mubtaahij, and Tale of Verve.

Frammento: Frammento, by Midshipman and out Ginger Bay, is trained by Nick Zito. Two horses trained by Zito have denied Triple Crown contenders the pleasure of winning the Belmont. In 2004, Zito's Birdstone beat the famous Smarty Jones in the Belmont. Zito's Da' Tara beat Big Brown in the 2008 Belmont. With only one first in his entire career of eight races, Frammento is a longshot, but anything can happen in the Belmont.

Madefromlucky: Madefromlucky is by Lookin At Lucky and out of Home From Oz. Also in his
pedigree is Pulpit, A.P. Indy, and Mr. Prospector. Madefromlucky's trainer is none other than Todd Pletcher, who trained the infamous Tonalist, the horse that beat California Chrome in last year's Belmont. Madefromlucky competed only in maidens last year, and earlier this year, he placed second and fourth in the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby, respectively. Those two races were won by American Pharoah. Rather than running in the Derby, Madefromlucky raced in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park, coming in first.

Post positions and odds. Click to enlarge.
Mubtaahij: Mubtaahij is by Dubawi and out of Pennegale. He was raced three times as a two-year-old, all maiden races, and only won one of the races. Before racing in the Derby, he won three races and placed second in another. In the Kentucky Derby, he finished eighth.

Tale of Verve: Tale of Verve is a homebred by Tale of Ekati and out of Verve. Unbridled, Storm Cat, and Sunday Silence are each found several generations back in his pedigree. Out of the six races he had run before the Preakness, Tale of Verve had only won one of them, a maiden he had run not long before the Derby. Because of his not very good record, Tale of Verve entered the Preakness with odds of 28-1. However, this longshot surprised everyone by running second to American Pharoah.

Horses American Pharoah Should Watch Out For

 Frosted: Frosted is by Tapit and out of Fast Cookie. Tapit is by Pulpit, the sire of Lucky Pulpit, who is the sire of California Chrome. Frosted has A.P. Indy three generations back on his sire line. A.P. Indy is the son of Seattle Slew, the 1977 Triple Crown winner. In fact, Seattle Slew appears on both sides on Frosted's pedigrees. Needless to say, he has an impressive pedigree, and a pretty good race record as well. With odds of 5-1, Frosted proves to be a horse American Pharoah should watch out for.

Keen Ice: Keen Ice is by Curlin, out of Medomak. Curlin was a stayer(he was great at long races), coming second by a head in 2007's Belmont and being named the Eclipse Champion three-year-old colt and the Horse of the Year in 2007. He is also the sire of Palace Malice, who competed in 2013's Derby and Belmont; and Ride on Curlin, who competed in last year's Triple Crown. Though he placed only seventh in the Derby, his jockey believes that Keen Ice can be competitive in the Belmont. Keen Ice was bred for stamina, which is just what is needed in the Belmont.
Materiality(right), trained by Todd Pletcher

Materiality: Materiality is by Afleet Alex and out of Wildwood Flower. Materiality was unraced as a two-year-old, but has been successful this year as a three-year-old. He broke his maiden in his first race, which was at Gulfstream Park, winning both of the following races as well. He placed sixth in the Derby. Materiality is trained by Todd Pletcher, who you may recognize as the trainer of Tonalist, the horse that beat California Chrome in last year's Belmont. This year, Pletcher hopes to win the Belmont from a Triple Crown winner once again. With odds of 7-1, Materiality may just have a chance of doing it.

 I think that American Pharoah has a high chance of winning the Triple Crown, but I thought the same thing with California Chrome, and many people have thought the same with Smarty Jones, Big Brown, and I'll Have Another. It will be a dream come true for me to see a Triple Crown winner in my lifetime. Reading about it is one thing, but experiencing it firsthand is entirely different. I hope that American Pharoah can do it, and I believe in him. What are your thoughts?

Pedigree Query
"Triple Crown Letdown Fatigue" by Fran Jurga
Washington Post
Belmont Stakes Contenders