Las Vegas, NV - The final leg in the 2014 Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, goes down from Belmont Park in Elmont, New York this Saturday, June 7. History could be made when a group of the best three year olds in the land take to Belmont Park's main track and go 1 1/2 miles in search of the winner's share of the $1.5 million purse. All eyes will be on California Chrome as Belmont Park becomes the center of the horse racing universe.
The Belmont Stakes has attracted a strong filed of 11 to try and disrupt California Chrome's dream. The 1 1/2-mile Belmont, known as "The Test of a Champion," will be televised live from Belmont Park by NBC from 4:30-7:30 p.m., with an approximate post time of 6:52 p.m. Here is a look at the past performances of all 11 combatants for the final leg of this year's Triple Crown.
California Chrome - Art Sherman pupil will attempt to make history Saturday and seems to be in a good position to do so. California Chrome is seeking to become the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown - the first since Affirmed in 1978. He continued to dominate last time out with nice win in the Preakness Stakes after a four length win in the Kentucky Derby - he now has six straight wins. Before the Derby he won all four starts in relatively easy fashion. The wins include the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby April 5, the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes by an impressive 7 1/4 lengths (with a 107 Beyer Speed Figure) March 8 and two minor stakes races - the California Cup January 25 and the King Glorious Stakes at Hollywood Park December 22. He hasn't been touched in seven months - all eyes will be on him Saturday. Victor Espinoza has the return call from post 2 aboard the obvious 3-5 favorite.
Wicked Strong - had a respectable third behind Honor Code and Cairo Prince in the Grade 2 Remsen after a MSW score at Belmont Park in his second career start. Last time out was an OK fourth in the Kentucky Derby after an eye-opening win - in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 5. Before that his previous two efforts weren't all that great - a fourth in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream February 22 followed a disappointing ninth in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes January 25. He has placed in four of seven career starts but his win in April has given him some serious credibility. Wicked Strong has looked terrific in training ahead of the Belmont and will have Rajiv Maragh in the reins on the 6-1 second choice from gate 9.
Tonalist - Christophe Clement trained colt is coming off a terrific win on this track - the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes May 10 after a second behind Constitution in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream and after breaking maiden January 18 on that same track. He proved last time out that stakes company doesn't scare him in the least - jockey Joel Rosario will be out to spoil California Chrome's party from the outside post at 8-1 odds.
Ride On Curlin - has finished worse than third just twice in 11 career starts and is coming off a career best performance - a second behind California Chrome in the Preakness. Before that was an alright seventh in the Kentucky Derby. He had a good second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby April 12 after two straight thirds in graded stakes action - the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes in March and the Grade 3 Southwest in February. He has yet to win a graded stakes race and the added distance could be a benefit. John Velazquez has the mount from post 5 at 12-1 odds.
Commanding Curve - Dallas Stewart trainee has a win, two seconds and two third place finishes in seven career starts and was last seen running a very good second to California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby at 37-1 odds. His win came four back in a MSW in November. He has placed in his last two graded stakes starts but will be in tough against a terrific field this week looking for his first stakes score. Shaun Bridgmohan will get the mount from post 4 as Commanding Curve is sent off at 15-1 odds.
Commissioner - Todd Pletcher trained colt raced to a disappointing sixth in his graded stakes debut - the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park February 22 after looking very impressive in his first three career starts. He won an Allowance Optional Claiming over Top Billing January 3 after breaking maiden August 28 in his second career start and a second in his debut - a MSW at Monmouth Park August 8. Last time out he looked good again - a second in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes on this track May 10 after a disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park April 12 and a decent third behind Chitu in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby in March. He hopes for his first graded stakes score Saturday and will have Javier Castellano in the saddle from post 8 at 20-1 on the morning line.
General a Rod - finished an OK fourth in the Preakness and eleventh in the Kentucky Derby. He was third before that in the Grade 1 Florida Derby March 29 after a second for trainer Michael Maker behind Wildcat Red in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth February 22 and a win in the minor Gulfstream Park Derby over Wildcat Red in his third career start. He also had a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Churchill Downs November 30 and a MSW score in his debut at Keeneland October 18. General A Rod now has two wins, two seconds and a third place finish in seven career starts and will be looking for a breakthrough in his third Triple Crown try. Rosie Napravnik has been tabbed to ride General A Rod from gate 10 at 20-1 odds.
Medal Count - Dale Romans trained colt is coming off an eighth in the Kentucky Derby after a good second in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland April 12, a win in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes April 4, a fifth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream February 22, an Allowance Optional Claiming score January 12 and an eleventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. That followed an equally disappointing fifth in the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland in October and a MSW score in his career debut at Ellis Park September 1. Medal Count had two terrific results in April and will be looking to regain that form. He starts from the rail at 20-1 odds with Robby Alabrado aboard.
Samraat - Richard Violette trained colt is coming off a respectable fifth in the Kentucky Derby after a second behind Wicked Strong in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 5. He had four starts and four wins to start his career over Uncle Sigh in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes February 1, before that in his stakes debut - the listed Damon Runyon Stakes by an astounding 16 3/4 lengths December 18, an Allowance score November 22 and a MSW by 3 1/2 lengths score in his debut at Belmont Park in October. Jose Ortiz has the call from post 7 at 20-1 odds.
Matterhorn - Todd Pletcher trained colt made his stakes debut May 10 and finished an OK fourth in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes on this track after three career starts yielded a win and a third place finish. He was third against older entries in an Allowance at Aqueduct March 28 after a distant tenth in an Allowance Optional Claiming in February and a maiden score at first asking November 16. He starts from post 3 with Joe Bravo aboard at 30-1 on the morning line.
Matuszak - Bill Mott trained colt has eight career starts with just one win, a second and two third place finishes. He enters having placed in his last two starts, both minor stakes races. Last time out was a second in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico April 19 after a third in the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park in March. He had two graded stakes starts this past winter with so-so results - a fourth in the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes followed a sixth in the Grade 2 Remsen. Matuszak has been just OK as of late and will have Mike Smith in the saddle from post 6 as the co-longest shot in the field at 30-1 odds.
Race 11 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 6:52 PM.
||Ride On Curlin
||R. Violette, Jr.
||General a Rod