There is only one race standing between American Pharoah and a date with Destiny. Win the Belmont and he will be a legendary horse, perched right beside Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Citation, War Admiral and the other Triple Crown winners. Just one race. That's the good news. The bad news, though, is that a very tough field of horse is shaping up to face him. American Pharoah is more than capable of winning the Belmont. If he does it, though, he will be an incredibly deserving Triple Crown winner. The race is hard enough, and this field sure doesn't make it any easier.
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I'll assume you are aware of American Pharoah by now. There are currently 10 horses lining up to take a shot at him. Keep in mind that this can change as time goes along and horses are added or subtracted, though in general this is a more static field than others because fewer horses are suited to the test, and horses have been aiming at it for a while.
Carpe Diem: He was almost flawless in five races leading up to the Derby - four nice wins, and a fully-acceptable second in the haywire Breeders' Cup Juvenile. His Derby, though, was pretty much a disaster. He never settled down, was fighting his jockey the whole way, and had nothing to give in the stretch. Lousy showing. Now he'll come into this race fresh and, hopefully, sharper.
Conquest Curlinate: It was a surprise when this horse showed up in the discussion - he wasn't Triple Crown nominated, so his owner will have to ante up $75,000 to get him into the race. He's from the stable of Mark Casse, who had Danzig Moon in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. He has one win in five starts and has most recently been second in two decent stakes races.
Frammento: I was far from inspired by this horse when he made his way into the Derby field at the last minute. His dull 11th-place finish in the Derby did nothing to improve him in my eyes. At least it will be easy to discount one horse.
Frosted: This horse backed up an impressive win in the Wood Memorial with an impressive showing in the Kentucky Derby. He was fourth and with a few more strides would have wound up in the top three. He's one of those horses who seems to only be getting better.
Keen Ice: Here's another horse that was lucky to get into the Derby party, didn't really looked like he belonged after not finishing better than third in five starts, and then didn't look like he was good enough to be a threat in that race. He settled well off the pace early. While he moved up willingly at the end, he just didn't look like a real threat.
Madefromlucky: He could have been in the Derby, but his connections instead opted for the Peter Pan the next weekend at Belmont. He obviously liked the track - he ran a professional race to win against a small field.
Materiality: Heading into the Derby, the concern for this unbeaten runner was his experience - he had only run three times. That lack of experience caused him a shot in the Derby. He was very slow getting out of the gate. He looked strong later on but had dug too much of a whole.
Mubtaahij: Heading into the Derby this horse was in a tough spot. He had just arrived from Dubai and had so much to get used to. He just didn't look like anything in the Derby - certainly not like the horse that had dominated his last race. Now he will head into this race with five weeks in the States to get comfortable. We should see a better side of him.
Tale of Verve: The biggest surprise of many in the Preakness was that this horse, who seemed horribly outclassed in that race, was a solid second. It was a strong showing in horrible conditions. But can he repeat it?
War Story: A disaster. That's what it is when you have a pretty solid horse who never makes any kind of threat in the Derby, finishes 16th, and never looks like he deserved better than that. He's back here, though, and his connections say that he will be going for the early lead. That doesn't seem like a great idea, but anything different than what he did in Kentucky can't hurt.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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