There are a whole lot of people with all sorts of interests that will hope that only one horse, American Pharoah, can win the Belmont. If we have learned anything from history, though, it's that no horse is a lock for a Triple Crown no matter how good they have looked up to that point. So, that means we should be on the lookout for all of the horses that can win the Belmont. There are likely 11 horses pointing to the race, but in my eyes there are six with a realistic shot at victory (all odds to win the Belmont are from Bovada):
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American Pharoah (1/1): We don't need to spend too much time talking about him. We know he can win a Triple Crown race because he has already impressively won two. He has breeding to handle this and talent oozing out of every pore. I am more than a little uneasy about his chances, though, and the biggest reason is how much that Preakness took out of him. An odd pace scenario and horrific conditions meant he had to dig much deeper than a horse that wins by daylight like he did usually does. Can he shake that off and bounce back to his best, or near enough to it, when the other five horses on this list all skipped the Preakness and rested instead? It's not going to be easy. But beating him is a long way from easy, too.
Carpe Diem (16/1): If I had to pick one horse in this race aside from the favorite it would have been Carpe Diem at almost any price, so getting him at 16/1 seems almost criminal. His Derby outing was a disaster - he was 10th and has no excuse for the lousy no-show. I'm willing to give him a mulligan, though - not only because Todd Pletcher is so bad at getting horses ready for that race that it's almost a joke. The horse has the breeding to handle this distance well. He has the speed to be close enough to the leaders early on if that's the place to be, but he has the stamina to weather a storm, too. What I also like is that he has fallen so far off the public radar after the Derby - he was the strong third choice in that race. Any time I find myself not on the side of the public I'm happy.
Frammento (50/1): I'm not losing my mind - I don't actually think that, based on what we have seen, this horse is good enough to win the Belmont. He is trained by Nick Zito, though, so I'm not going to ignore him. Twice bitten, three times shy as the saying goes. I picked Smarty Jones over Zito's horse in 2004, and Birdstone won. I picked Big Brown in 2008 - very enthusiastically, too - and Zito's Da' Tara came from nowhere for the win.
Frosted (5/1): I really want to like this horse. His move around the final turn in the Derby was ridiculously impressive, and he got up for fourth - and would have been third with a few more strides. He slowed noticeably in the stretch, though, and that has been a trend in several of his outings. I am concerned that he just isn't going to have enough in the tank for the endless Belmont stretch after such a long race, and his breeding doesn't give me much reason to shed those doubts. I still like him, but I'd like him a lot more at Carpe Diem's price.
Keen Ice (25/1): Nothing he has done on the track earns him a spot on this list. In fact, most people would be surprised to see him in this company. I include him for two reasons, though. First, he is a closer. That's often not a good thing in the Belmont, but there is a chance that things could get really crazy early on in this race, so a horse that picks up the pieces could have a good day. More significantly, his sire, Curlin, and damsire, Awesome Again, were both all-time greats who could run forever, so as much as any horse in the field I am confident in his ability over the distance. He's an intriguing long shot - if nothing else as a horse to throw into the bottom of your exotics.
Materiality (15/2): I was very down on this horse heading into the Derby. He was unbeaten but had only run three times and had faced no adversity. I doubted he was ready. I was right - and wrong. I was right because when the gate opened he was lost in space and was left behind. That meant he was at the back of the massive pack and was being hit in the face by a ton of dirt. Where I was wrong, though, was that he showed he could handle that adversity. Instead of quitting he moved forward nicely and wound up a respectable sixth. I still don't know that he is mature and experienced enough to face what can be a tougher test here in the Belmont. I'd buy futures in him, though - he could be a beast by the summer.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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