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2014 Belmont Contenders Analysis

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horse racing California Chrome

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome will likely be the favorite in the Belmont Stakes

© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Updated July 30, 2014

The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, and at 1 1/2 miles on the dirt, is a dinosaur with so few main track events carded at twelve furlongs these days. With the short five week span for three gruelling races under scale weight of 126 pounds over three very different tracks and three different distances, it takes a very special horse sweep the series. So much so that only eleven horses have completed the task, and the last one, Affirmed, was back in 1978. This year we have a chance for a new Triple Crown winner in Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome. Can he go all the way?

Thanks to injuries, poor performance in preps, or just plain lack of ability at the distance, the Belmont often gets a short field of horses, although this year might be the exception. While traffic trouble, a major issue in the Derby, shouldn't be an issue here, once again 3-year-olds are being asked to do something they've never done and conditioning will be key. Major factors which separate the likely winners of the Belmont are weighed out in this analysis, as we did for the Derby and Preakness fields.

Like the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, we have compiled some of the more profitable angles used to select a Belmont Stakes winner in recent years, and applied them to the possible entrants. Some novice horseplayers mistakenly believe a long race immediately favors closers when in fact the Belmont favors stalkers. As well, the 4.00 Dosage Index angle is stronger in the Belmont than in the Derby where it's mostly used (we set the upper limit at 3.00 in this race), but there's an additional dosage angle which is quite counter-intuitive indeed. The Belmont favors horses who have zero points in the Solid and/or Professional wings of their dosage profiles, where you'd expect to see indicators of stamina for the grueling 12 furlong trip. In the past we looked for “double zero” but this eliminated some recent winners so this requirement has changed.

As we have for the Derby and Preakness, horses that are tied in points will be listed in alphabetical order. However, unlike the first two legs of the Triple Crown, this year's Belmont analysis shows the field to be very closely matched indeed. Usually the Derby and Preakness winner “tower” over the rest of the field, but this time, this didn't happen. You can view the past performances of these horses free from BRIS.

The first four horses tied for the most points and are listed in alphabetical order.

California Chrome is going for immortality on Saturday and he is in the lead group as expected. It is worth noting that Big Brown and Smarty Jones "distanced" the competition in our analysis but still failed to win, while I'll Have Another failed to start, so maybe this is a blessing in disguise. He uses the preferred stalking style, raced in both Triple Crown events so far (both stakes wins and the Preakness a sharp prep inside 28 days), has enough starts this year, has run 100+ speed figures, and does have a 0 on the right side of his dosage profile. However he does have some knocks against -- his dosage index is 3.40 which is above our 3.00 cutoff, he has never raced at Belmont Park, and he was overraced at 2, with 7 starts, where the Belmont prefers a small range of just 1-3.

Commissioner, a newcomer to the Triple Crown wars, surprised us with his high score. He enters the "Test of a Champion" off a runner-up effort in the Peter Pan, which qualifies as a sharp prep and a sharp race at Belmont Park inside 28 days. He qualifies on both counts in dosage, having the zero and a 3.00 index, has enough starts at 2 and 3, and ran a 100+ figure in the Peter Pan. He lacks a stakes win and gets knocks for ducking both Derby and Preakness.

General A Rod finished fourth in the Preakness after disappointing in 11th in the Derby. Maybe third time's a charm? He gets points for running in both, has enough starts at 2 and 3, has a stakes win at 3 (Gulfstream Park Derby), is coming off a 3 week layoff, and qualifies on both dosage angles. On the downside he tends to run close to the pace, is not coming off a sharp prep, and has never raced at Belmont.

Wicked Strong was fourth in the Derby and then skipped the Preakness to be rested for this race. He stalks the pace, raced in the derby, has enough starts at 2 and 3 and a stakes win (Wood Memorial), has a sharp race at Belmont (maiden win in October), has raced a 100+ figure, and qualifies on dosage. However, skipping the Preakness earns him knocks for that plus the longer layoff, and he did not have a sharp prep.

On to page 2 for the rest of the horses

Belmont Stakes Workout Photos - Photos from the morning works on the Saturday before the 2014 Belmont Stakes, featuring Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome in his final timed work before the big race. Also out were Commanding Curve, Tonalist, and Ride On Curlin.

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