New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah has been made the 3-5 morning line favorite in the eight- horse field for Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
The colt will try to become just the 12th horse to capture the Triple Crown.
Owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah is within one victory of ending a drought that has existed since Affirmed last won the Triple Crown in 1978. Previously, 13 other 3-year-olds have won the first two legs of the series only to fail in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion” at Belmont Park.
American Pharoah will start the Belmont Stakes from post 5 with his regular jockey Victor Espinoza. Espinoza rode California Chrome to victory in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year, but finished in a dead heat for fourth in the Belmont behind Tonalist. Espinoza was also War Emblem’s jockey when he failed to win the Triple Crown in 2002.
This is Baffert’s fourth attempt at winning the Triple Crown. The Hall of Fame trainer previously saddled Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem.
“We’re sort of used to running in these big races, so it’s not like it’s the first time for us,” Baffert said. “We know that as long as we’re prepared and we know what we need to do – that’s the whole thing. The only thing that I would get nervous about would be if things aren’t going well, but so far everything has been right on schedule. There haven’t been any setbacks – no hiccups – so that’s the main thing.”
American Pharoah, last year’s champion 2-year-old, won the Kentucky Derby on May 2 by a length over Firing Line and two weeks later crushed the opposition by seven lengths in the Preakness on a sloppy track at Pimlico.
“I think it’s big for the sport right now,” Baffert said. “It’s about the sport and the Thoroughbred industry. This is a time where people are tuning in to see if it can happen and I think that’s like any sport. People in this country are sports fanatics (and) will tune in to see if there’s something on the line or some historic thing.”
American Pharoah has earned $3,730,300 in seven career starts, including wins in his last six races.
Frosted, fourth in the Kentucky Derby, is the 5-1 second choice and will start from post 6 with jockey Joel Rosario. The 6-1 third pick is Materiality, sixth in the Run for the Roses, and will be ridden by John Velazquez from the outside post.
Here is the field for the Belmont Stakes in post position order: Mubtaahij, 10-1, Irad Ortiz Jr.; Tale of Verve, 15-1, Gary Stevens; Madefromlucky, 12-1, Javier Castellano; Frammento, 30-1, Mike Smith; American Pharoah, 3-5, Victor Espinoza; Frosted, 5-1, Joel Rosario; Keen Ice, 20-1, Kent Desormeaux and Materiality, 6-1, John Velazquez.
Post time for the Belmont Stakes is scheduled for 6:50 p.m. ET.
No rain is in the forecast for Saturday at Belmont Park. Partly cloudy skies in the afternoon, winds from the northeast 5-10 m.p.h. with a post time temperature of 78.