If history is our guide, American Pharoah will not win the 2015 Belmont Stakes. True, the 3-year-old colt entered the two previous Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, as the favorite and came out victorious. And true, he not only won the Preakness, but he won it by seven lengths, leading wire to wire and looking unbeatable while doing it.
But American Pharoah is the 14th horse to win the first two jewels of the Triple Crown since 1978, and not the only one to do it in impressive fashion. So if history is our guide, we'd better get to know the seven horses he'll line up against Saturday evening at Belmont Park, because any one of them might just play spoiler.
The two given the best chance at forcing yet another year without a Triple Crown winner are Frosted (given 5/1 morning line odds after the post announcement on Wednesday) and Materiality, at 6/1, both with good bloodlines and strong connections. The former finished fourth at the Kentucky Derby before skipping the trip to Pimlico three weeks ago, while the latter finished sixth in the Derby and bypassed the Preakness as well. The runner-up in the Preakness, Tale of Verve, sits all the way down at 15/1 odds and barely finished in Pharoah's zip code
The others, too, have a chance, a few with ties to Seattle Slew and others with Belmont-winning jockeys. Their odds may not all be favorable, but in the eight-horse field of the mile-and-a-half Belmont, going against a horse with less rest than any over the past five weeks, anything is possible.
Here's a guide to the competitors at the Belmont, listed by morning line odds.
American Pharoah (3/5 odds)
Owner: Zayat Stables (Ahmed Zayat)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Victor Espinoza
At this point American Pharoah needs little introduction. He won the Kentucky Derby by a length and the Preakness Stakes by seven. His top competition in those races, Dortmund and Firing Line, are both skipping the Belmont, making Pharoah an overwhelming favorite (both sentimentally and in betting odds) at the Belmont. He lost the first race he entered, but has won all six since. His name, by the way, is misspelled because it was entered incorrectly into an Internet registry, so he was stuck with it.
Owner: Godolphin Racing (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Joel Rosario
The son of Tapit (himself the grandson of 1991 Belmont winner A.P. Indy and the third generation of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew), Frosted has posted only one Grade 1 victory entering Belmont, the Wood Memorial in April, but has had several good showings, including a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Joel Rosario won the Belmont last year, guiding Tonalist over Triple Crown bidder California Chrome. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Wednesday his charge will need an A-plus race and "superhorse" American Pharoah a B-day for Frosted to win, but it's definitely within the realm of possibility.
Owners: Alto Racing (Gil Moutray, Eddie Harrell)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Valazquez
His sire, Afleet Alex, won two-thirds of the Triple Crown in 2005, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, after losing the Kentucky Derby. Materiality enters the 2015 Belmont having run in just four races, all of them after turning age 3. He won the first three, including the Florida Derby, but finished sixth at the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness. Jockey John Valazquez rode a Belmont winner most recently in 2012, Union Rags.
Owner: Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalife Al Maktoum
Trainer: Mike de Kock
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
The Irish-trained colt has earned four victories in his career, but none in America. He began his career in England before moving on to to Dubai, where he won the UAE Derby. After making the trip to the United States, Mubtaahij finished eighth at the Kentucky Derby more than nine lengths back of American Pharoah. As for the name? Mubtaahij is Arabic for "elated."
Owner: Everett Dobson, Mac Nichol
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Although he did not enter either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, Madefromlucky's claim to fame is winning the Peter Pan Stakes on May 9 at Belmont Park, although that race was 1-1/8 miles rather than the 1-1/2 of the Belmont Stakes. That may not be a perfect predictor, but last year's Belmont winner, Tonalist, won the Peter Pan Stakes. He's the second of trainer Todd Pletcher's two entries in the Belmont.
Tale of Verve (15/1)
Owner: Charles Fipke
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: Gary Stevens
Tale of Verve skipped the Kentucky Derby before a surprise second-place finish behind American Pharoah at the Preakness. It wasn't close though, he still lost by seven lengths. Jockey Gary Stevens himself finished second to Pharoah earlier, atop Firing Line at the Kentucky Derby. The 52-year-old Stevens most recently won the Belmont in 2001.
Keen Ice (20/1)
Owner: Donegal Racing
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux
Keen Ice doesn't have a lot of track record, finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby, and never better than third after winning his maiden race. But his bloodline is strong for the Belmont. Curlin, his sire, finished second in the Belmont (just barely losing to Rags to Riches). Palace Malice, another son of Curlin, won the 2013 Belmont after finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Kent Desormeaux won the 2009 Belmont atop Summer Bird.
Owner: Nena Moss
Trainer: Nick Zito
Jockey: Mike Smith
Frammento was a late addition to the Kentucky Derby, getting in as an alternate, and finished 11th. Like Frosted, Frammento has ties to A.P. Indy and 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Trainer Nick Zito has played the spoiler before at the Belmont, with Birdstone beating Smarty Jones in 2004. However, like in the Kentucky Derby, Frammento enters with the worst odds among the field and seems unlikely to repeat Zito's past spoiler success.