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


  1. i am really hoping to see American Pharaoh take the triple crown!!!!

  2. I love frosted and I have a hard time throwing out anything with Joel Rosario up out. I would love to see American Pharoah win the Triple Crown, even if I'm not really a Baffert fan. Great breakdown!


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