When the March Madness picks are set each season, it's never surprising to see the Gonzaga Bulldogs on the shortlist of potential NCAA Tournament champions.
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Should American Pharaoh Be Favored At Belmont Stakes?
I think it's fair to say that most of America wants to see American Pharaoh complete the 12th Triple Crown in horse racing history at Saturday's 147th running of the Belmont Stakes. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner is the heavy 3-5 favorite at Bovada and will start from Post 5. But should he be favored? After all, the past 13 horses since Affirmed won the last Triple Crown in 1978 have failed. And no horse who won the Preakness has won the Belmont since Afleet Alex in 2005. It's just too hard these days to run the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in a five-week span.
Field With Post Positions
1. Mubtaahij. Following an eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, his first race in North American, he’s won four of eight lifetime starts, including the $2 million UAE Derby, all at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. South African trainer Michael de Kock saddles his first Belmont starter. Mubtaahij skipped the Preakness. Morning line odds:10-1.
2. Tale of Verve. Tale of Verve. The surprise runner-up in the Preakness three weeks ago, Tale of Verve went into that race with just one win in six attempts. Sent off at odds of nearly 29-1, he closed from far back over Pimlico’s sloppy track but was no threat to winner American Pharoah, finishing seven lengths back. Jockey Gary Stevens won the Belmont in 1995 on Thunder Gulch, 1998 on Victory Gallop and 2001 on Point Given. Morning line odds: 15-1.
3. Madefromlucky. One of two horses entered by trainer Todd Pletcher, who won this race in 2007 with Rag to Riches, the first filly to win the Belmont since 1905, and in 2013 with Palace Malice. He ran in neither the Kentucky Derby nor the Preakness, racing last at Belmont a month ago, winning the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes. He’s got the services of Javier Castellano, a two-time reigning Eclipse Award winner for outstanding jockey looking for his first win in the Belmont. Morning line odds: 12-1.
4. Frammento. Got into the Kentucky Derby when Stanford scratched, and he finished 11th – 12 lengths behind American Pharoah. Frammento did not run in the Preakness after the worst finish of his eight-race career. Considered a closer, Frammento's only win came in his second race. Seattle Slew, the 1977 Triple Crown winner, is a great-grandfather of both Frammento's sire and dam and one of Frammento's great-grandfathers is A.P. Indy, the winner of the 1992 Belmont. Trainer Nick Zito has won two Belmont Stakes, and both times he foiled Triple Crown attempts. Morning line odds: 30-1.
5. American Pharoah. He’s won six of seven lifetime races. He crushed the field at the Preakness. He can run on the lead or off the pace. He’s done pretty much everything asked of him to this point in his short career. Bob Baffert, American Pharoah's trainer, has had three of the Kentucky Derby-Preakness winners who came up empty. American Pharoah's jockey, Victor Espinoza, has ridden for the Triple Crown at Belmont Park twice previously without success. Morning line odds: 3-5.
6. Frosted. He entered the Kentucky Derby off a 2-length victory in the Grade I Wood Memorial. He finished fourth at Churchill Downs, 3.25 lengths behind American Pharoah, but was closing down the stretch. Frosted, who is a descendant of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew through both his sire and dam, skipped the Preakness. Jockey Joel Rosario tries to make it two in a row after winning last year’s Belmont with Tonalist. Morning line odds: 5-1.
7. Keen Ice. He was a longshot in the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished seventh. His sire Curlin finished second in the 2007 edition of the race, barely losing a hard-fought battle, before twice being named Horse of the Year. His pedigree says he can get this distance, but he hasn’t hit the winner’s circle, or even finished second, since last September. Jockey Kent Desormeaux rode Summer Bird to victory in the 2009 Belmont.
8. Materiality. The second entered here by trainer Todd Pletcher. Undefeated going into the Kentucky Derby off three races in which he’d been on or close to the lead, he broke badly at Churchill Downs, taking him out of the race from the start, leading to a sixth-place finish. He be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who rode Belmont Stakes winners in 2007 (Rags to Riches, for Pletcher) and 2012 (Union Rags). Morning line odds: 6-1.
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