2014 Belmont Stakes prediction

In my heart of hearts, I do want to see a Triple Crown superhorse It will be something somehat beneficial for the sport, tho horse racing can really improve when the calendar of races outside the Derby Trail and the Breeders Cup gani larger importance.
Let’s go horse by horse for the Belmont:

MEDAL COUNT: Winner of the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland. Ran 3 consecutive lifetime tops in the Fountain Of Youth, Transylvania and Blue Grass Stakes, then a near pair-up in the Kentucky Derby. Actually it’s a triple up…running 94 to 97 the last 3 races, above an 89 in the Fountain Of Youth. This horse is outclassed outside of pace progression. My odds: worse than 14-1. No shot.

 
CALIFORNIA CHROME shares rank of best class.No surprise, winnning the Santa Anita Derby and 2/3 of the Triple Crown. He has 2 wins from an inside post…same trips as he had in the KY Derby and Belmont. I can’t factor him as an absolute lock because there are other horses that fit into better categories but he obviously must be factored. 7-1. Value pick.
 
MATTERHORN won a 75k maiden race in first start, was 4th in the Peter Pan with a new lifetime best far beyond his lone 2YO start. This is one horse whom I ranked as having strong pedigree that matches the chef-de-race idea for winners at Belmont. Sire is Tapit, who had won the Laurel Futurity and the Wood Memorial in 2003. Dam is multiple stakes winner Winter Garden. ROI angle: Joe Bravo has paired up in 42 races with Todd Pletcher in last 60 days, with 42% wins, 63% in the money, for return of + 4.14. 13-1. Dark horse.
 
COMMANDING CURVE hasn’t won anything outside of his maiden win in his 4th lifetime start. Forged lifetime best of 98 in the Lousiana Derby, and 101 in the Kentucky Derby in last two race. Could represent a bounce today. Odds: Worse than 14-1. No shot.

RIDE ON CURLIN lacks class of field…winning simply a 50k allowance in 3YO debut, but has contended in 4 Graded races since. This is the one horse in the field who is only now progressing past his 2YO best. His first race, back in July of 2013, was a 30k maiden win, with a dazzling 102 Brisnet. Only in the Preakness did he do any better, a 103. This indicates he can do even better today. Last 4 races have ranged from 96 to 103. Sure, he’s a closer but he’ll truly find his stride today. 4-1. Contender.

 
MATUSZAK also has just won his first race at the maiden level and managed to compete in some minor stakes events at mid-major tracks. He is also a deep closer, dependent on one big run and I feel he will get that run. Should he get the right trip, his stretch kick will dominate this field. Best work tab of the field too: 5 works at Belmont, 2 of those with a bullet. 3-1. Contender.

SAMRAAT after winning first 5 lifetime was second in the Wood Memorial, 5th in the KY Derby. I don’t see a single variable that mentions him at all. Worse than 14-1. No shot.

COMMISSIONER won just twice but nothing of any class. 2nd in the Peter Pan on this track. Best jockey/trainer win % combo of the field (Castellano, 22%; Pletcher, 27%). Ilke that he spiked to a 102 Brisnet in the Peter Pan, tho he can bounce from that. Also, both of his wins are from a middle post, right where he is now. 6-1. Value horse.

 
WICKED STRONG won the Wood Memorial, 4th in the KY Derby. This is the other horse who has won at Grade 1. ROI angle: James Jerkens has saddled 27% winners out of 44 races, 55% in the money, for return of +2.12. Odds: 11-1. Dark horse.

GENERAL A ROD won the Gulfstream Park Derby, ungraded back on New Year’s Day, no wins since, tho had competed well at the Florida tracks. None of my variables rank him with any edge here today. Worse than 14-1. No shot.

TONALIST may be seen as the big threat to Chrome’s Triple Crown shot. 4th in his maiden debut with an 85, then maiden breaker of 93, 2nd in an optional claimer at 75k, also with a 93, then a big win in the Peter Pan with a 107 score. Best average winning distance from pedigree (Tapit out of Pulpit, and Settling Mist out of Derby/Preakness winner Pleasant Colony). The 107 is the best Belmont performance of the field. Having forged that lifetime best, he can bounce but cannot be ruled out. Also shows the best trip among this field coming in. Odds: 6-1. Contender.

So, with some controversy, here’s my top 5:
6 Matuszak
5 Ride On Curlin
11 Tonalist
8 Commissioner
2 California Chrome.

Busy day for me today….handicapping the races at Pimlico and major races at Belmont today for www.theracingbiz.com 4th leg of a contest series. I’ve already received 2 entries to a grand prize drawing where the top 2 winners receive prizes tied into Maryland Millions Day in October. Also, I’m still in the Survival At The Shore contest at Monmouth Park, plus the meet-long contest at Emerald Downs.  

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