Belmont Stakes Contenders: A Quick Guide

Belmont Stakes Contenders: A Quick Guide
Photo: Rick Samuels

Use this quick and informative guide for a look at the field for the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). It is compiled in post position order by Ron Mitchell, with analysis by Evan Hammonds. 

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Medal Count
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Medal Count
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MEDAL COUNT   (20-1)
Bay colt, by DynaformerBrisquette, by Unbridled's Song
Owner: Spendthrift Farm
Breeder: Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings (KY)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Race Record: 8 starts, 3 wins, 1 second, 0 thirds
Earnings: $261,100
Best Wins: Transylvania Stakes (gr. III)
Best Placings: 2nd Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I)
(Watch his last race.)  

Trainer Dale Romans has sung the praises of this colt since last year, but the big colt has been unable to transform morning works to dirt form. He was moving well in Derby but was stopped cold in the stretch when Danza cut in front of him and finished eighth. Brings back-to-back bullet works with him to Belmont. Don't count on him being tired in the stretch; should relish the trip.

California Chrome
Photo: Rick Samuels
California Chrome at Belmont Park June 4.
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Chestnut colt, by Lucky Pulpit  Love the Chase, by Not For Love
Owners: Perry Martin and Steve Coburn
Breeders: Perry Martin and Steve Coburn (CA)
Trainer: Art Sherman
Jockey: Victor Espinoza
Race Record: 12 starts, 8 wins, 1 second, 0 thirds
Earnings: $3,452,650
Best Wins: Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), California Cup Derby, King Glorious Stakes, Graduation Stakes
(Watch his last race.)  

Morning-line 3-5 favorite to become racing's 12th winner of the Triple Crown. Seems to have thrived in his near-three week stay at Belmont Park with assistant trainer Alan Sherman reporting the colt has gained weight throughout the run through the classics. Had an awesome work, :47 3/5 for a half-mile, a week before the Belmont. Perhaps only two runners to challenge him early in the 1 1/2-mile race; should turn for home with the lead.

Photo: Coglianese Photos/Susie Raisher
Matterhorn at Belmont Park June 1.
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Bay colt, by Tapit  Winter Garden, by Roy
Owners: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Town and Country Farms
Breeder: Town and Country Farm Corp. (KY)
Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Race Record: 4 starts, 1 win, 0 seconds, 1 third
Earnings: $62,102
Best Wins: Maiden Special Weight
(Watch his last race.)  

Broke maiden in debut last November and was far back of eventual Florida Derby winner Constitution and Tonalist in '14 debut at Gulfstream. A $625,000 sale 2-year-old. Well beaten in the Peter Pan, finishing behind Tonalist and stablemate Commissioner. Trainer Todd Pletcher hoping colt will move up on a dry track.

Commanding Curve
Photo: Rick Samuels
Commanding Curve at Belmont Park June 3.
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Bay ridgling, by Master CommandMother, by Lion Hearted
Owner: West Point Thoroughbreds
Breeder: T. F. VanMeter (KY)
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan
Race Record: 7 starts, 1 win, 2 seconds, 2 thirds
Earnings: $542,434
Best Wins: Maiden Special Weight
Best Placings: 2nd Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I); 3rd Louisiana Derby (gr. II)
(Watch his last race.)  

Skipped Preakness after making big run in the Derby to finish second. Took four tries to break his maiden and has not won since, but prepped against top group in Louisiana over the winter. Worked a half-mile in :47 1/5 Sunday. He is a grandson of 1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy out of a mare who missed a grade II-placing by a nose. The distance is the least of his problems; early pace will spell his fate.

Ride On Curlin
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Ride On Curlin at Belmont Park June 1.
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Bay colt, by Curlin  Magical Ride, by Storm Cat
Owner: Daniel J. Dougherty
Breeder: G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and Louise Ireland Humphrey Revocable Trust
Trainer: William G. Gowan
Jockey: John Velazquez
Race Record: 11 starts, 2 wins, 3 seconds, 4 thirds
Earnings: $714,687
Best Wins: $56,000 Allowance, Maiden Special Weight
Best Placings: 2nd Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Arkansas Derby (gr. I); 3rd Champagne Stakes (gr. I), Rebel Stakes (gr. II), Southwest Stakes (gr. III), Street Sense Stakes
(Watch his last race.)  

Stabled in same barn as California Chrome and one who has gotten closest to him on the track this season, finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind him in the Preakness. One of three 3-year-olds to enter all three Triple Crown events, owner believes he's still 'fresh' because he didn't get chance to run much in the Derby. Has trained well and looks good at Belmont; appears to be biggest challenge to tarnish California Chrome's bid.

Photo: Rick Samuels
Matuszak at Belmont Park June 4.
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Dark bay or brown colt, by Bernardini  Golden Sonata, by Mr. Prospector
Owner: George J. Prussin
Breeder: Sha-Li Leasing Associates
Trainer: William Mott
Jockey: Mike Smith
Race Record: 8 starts, 1 win, 1 second, 1 third
Earnings: $78,643
Best Wins: Maiden Special Weight
Best Placings: 2nd Federico Tesio Stakes; 3rd Private Terms Stakes
(Watch his last race.)  

Broke maiden in his debut last September at Churchill Downs and is winless in seven starts since. Off the board in two starts at the graded level. Well-bred colt has not run since finishing second to Kid Cruz in Federico Tesio Stakes April 19 at Pimlico (Kid Cruz ran eighth in the Preakness). Best angle is trainer Bill Mott.

Photo: Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand
Samraat preps for the Belmont Stakes.
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SAMRAAT (20-1)
Dark bay or brown colt, by Noble Causeway—Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlie
Owner: My Meadowview Farm
Breeder: My Meadowview Farm (NY)
Trainer: Richard A. Violette Jr.
Jockey: Jose L. Ortiz
Race Record: 7 starts, 5 wins, 1 second, 0 thirds
Earnings: $833,200
Best Wins: Gotham Stakes (gr. III), Withers Stakes (gr. III), Damon Runyon Stakes
Best Placings: 2nd Wood Memorial (gr. I)
(Watch his last race.)  

Stepped out of New York-bred company to win Withers and Gotham Stakes. Fought hard, tired late in the Derby. Has running style to mix it up with California Chrome early, so he will get first run at him. Last pair of workouts have been at a mile to help him get the 12-furlong trip. The pride of New York.

Photo: Coglianese Photos/
Commissioner at Belmont Park June 1.
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Bay colt, by A.P. IndyFlaming Heart, by Touch Gold
Owner: WinStar Farm
Breeder: WinStar Farm (KY)
Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Race Record: 7 starts, 2 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third
Earnings: $235,767
Best Wins: $75,000 Optional Claiming/Allowance
Best Placings: 2nd Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II); 3rd Sunland Derby (gr. III)
(Watch his last race.)  

Shipped around the country on the Triple Crown trail seeking his spot and had his best run last time in the Peter Pan over a sloppy, sealed Belmont main track. By A.P. Indy, a Belmont winner, out of a mare by Touch Gold, a Belmont winner. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won Belmont twice and admits he's taking a shot here.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Wicked Strong at Belmont Park June 1.
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Bay colt by Hard Spun  Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic
Owner: Centennial Farms
Breeder: William F. Lynn (KY)
Trainer: James A. Jerkens
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh
Race Record: 7 starts, 2 wins, 1 second, 1 third
Earnings: $804,610
Best Wins: Wood Memorial (gr. I)
Best Placings: 3rd Remsen Stakes (gr. II)
(Watch his last race.)  

Late-running colt ran on well to close for fourth in the Derby and was impressive in winning the Wood by 3 1/2 lengths. Created some additional buzz after firing a bullet :59 for five furlongs Sunday. Broke his maiden over this track last October. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens is winning at a 36% clip at the meet. He will garner a lot of support from those in the know.

General a Rod
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
General a Rod at Churchill Downs.
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Dark bay or brown colt, by Roman RulerDynamite Eyes, by Dynaformer
Owners: Starlight Racing and Skychai Racing
Breeder: Hare Forest Farm (KY)
Trainer: Michael J. Maker
Jockey: Rosie Napravnik
Race Record: 7 starts, 2 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third
Earnings: $372,200
Best Wins: Gulfstream Park Derby
Best Placings: 2nd Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (gr. II); 3rd Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I)
(Watch his last race.)  

Finished 8 1/2 lengths behind California Chrome in the Derby and 8 lengths behind him in the Preakness. Has stout pedigree and can hang his hat on a pair of good efforts at Gulfstream in February and March when he was closer to the pace. It would take a dramatic reversal of form here to put him in the frame.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Tonalist at Belmont Park June 2.
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TONALIST   (8-1)
Bay colt, by Tapit  Settling Mist, by Pleasant Colony
Owner: Robert S. Evans
Breeder: Woodslane Farm (KY)
Trainer: Christophe Clement
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Race Record: 4 starts, 2 wins, 1 second, 0 thirds
Earnings: $157,000
Best Wins: Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II)
Best Placings: 2nd $75,000 Optional Claiming/Allowance
(Watch his last race.)  

Has shown brilliance but only has four starts under his belt. He was impressive in Peter Pan over the track, drawing off by four lengths. Big colt at 17 hands. Broodmare sire is stamina-laden Pleasant Colony, winner of Derby and Preakness in 1981 for owner's father, and broodmare is granddaughter of blue hen mare Toll Booth. He's the third choice on the morning line for a reason despite drawing outside post 11.

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