2014 Belmont Stakes Cheat Sheet
Level: Beginner
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

2014 Belmont Stakes Replay

Courtesy of NYRA

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Did you watch the Kentucky Derby and Preakness? Of course you did. Did you feel unprepared? We tried to help! Well, fret not, we’re here for you… again! Although we strongly suggest that you sign up for our Derby Prep Alert so you’re not so unprepared next year.

Here’s an overview of each of the 2014 Belmont Stakes contenders by post position. With seven of the 11 starters having run in the Derby and/or Preakness, be sure to check our 2014 Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet and 2014 Preakness Cheat Sheet for more back story.

1. Medal Count (20-1) – SHOW (3rd) – Just as he was making his move in the Derby stretch he encountered traffic trouble and lost momentum. Could he have won? Unlikely. Could he have hit the board? Possibly. Like Ride On Curlin in the Preakness, with a clean trip he could be there at the end.

2. California Chrome (3-5) – Like many before him, the Derby and Preakness winner seems like a plausible prospect to end the 36-year Triple Crown drought. Despite lacking a stamina-rich pedigree, he keeps getting better with every effort. Given his inside post he’s less likely to get the same perfect stalking trip as his prior two starts. Pair that with jockey Victor Espinoza’s post-Preakness quote about moving early — “It was not easy, but we got it done” — and one wonders if he can get it done one more time.

3. Matterhorn (30-1) – This lightly raced maiden winner ran a non-threatening 4th in the Peter Pan at Belmont last out, more than six lengths behind winner Tonalist. It doesn’t seem likely that his effort was due to the sloppy surface if you consider that his prior two races were not much better. While his chances don’t seem very promising, those who remember the 2008 Belmont Stakes know that stranger things have happened!

4. Commanding Curve (15-1) – He certainly validated his Arkansas Derby performance with an emphatic come-from-behind run for 2nd place in the Derby, but it’s good to keep in mind that more often than not the “freaky longshot Derby closer” usually does not run back to that performance next out. That said, he seems to be training well and has gotten favorable reviews since arriving at Belmont.

5. Ride On Curlin (12-1) – His game 2nd in the Preakness seems to indicate that, like his sire Curlin, he’s a bit of a late bloomer. He was no match for California Chrome that day but he wasn’t too far behind. At the very least he’s likely to be in the money, and perhaps with a little racing luck he could give Curlin his second consecutive Belmont winner.

6. Matuszak (30-1) – He ran 2nd and 3rd behind Kid Cruz in his last two outings and while he never threatened the winner, he didn’t run terribly. Trainer Bill Mott has pulled his share of high profile upsets with horses that he’s brought along slowly (such as Drosselmeyer in the 2010 Belmont Stakes at odds of 13-1) so he might be one for your exotics at the very least.

7. Samraat (20-1) – Going into the stretch of the Derby this 5th place finisher was neck and neck with California Chrome, but he bore out just a bit and lost some momentum, not that he would have won otherwise. He’s got the perfect Belmont stalking style and the tenacity to be there at the end, if he’s good enough.

8. Commissioner (20-1) – PLACE (2nd) – What this allowance winner lacks in graded wins, he makes up for with his stamina pedigree. In addition to being bred to “go long,” he displayed a great late kick when defeating the well-regarded Top Billing in the previously mentioned allowance in January. His best efforts have come when he’s sat closer to the pace, and if he doesn’t drop too far back he could be handy in your exotics.

9. Wicked Strong (6-1) – His 4th place finish in the Derby was impressive if you consider that he was well behind the leaders for half of the race and had to wend his way through tiring horses in the stretch. He has proven form at Belmont Park and his final work garnered oohs and aahs from the local cognoscenti. And let’s not forget that he’s running for a good cause!

10. General a Rod (20-1) – He displayed versatility when he came from off the pace in the Preakness to grab 4th, and he probably would’ve done better had he not had to navigate tiring horses. He could put it together to hit the board, and maybe more with a clean trip and some racing luck.

11. Tonalist (8-1) – WINNER – This pre-Derby buzz horse was knocked out of contention with a minor lung infection, but bounced back with an emphatic win in Peter Pan at Belmont Park. He’s flying under the radar among the wiseguys in comparison to the Derby horses that skipped the Preakness but his versatility with regard to running style could come in very handy.

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