California Chrome goes into the 2014 Belmont Stakes looking to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. While the horse has proved himself up to this point, a bunch of smarter bets exist for those looking to make big money on Saturday.
At 3-5 odds, even a win for the favorite will not provide much of a payout for bettors. Besides, the longer course at Belmont always seems to find a way to throw off Triple Crown hopefuls.
Instead, gamblers should look toward different options that could provide more value on race day. Even if you want to hedge your bets by taking them to place or show, it would still be a worthwhile risk in the prestigious race.
Here is a full look at the post for the Belmont Stakes with complete odds, courtesy of the race's official site.
Best Value Picks
Commanding Curve (15-1)
Although he did not compete in the Preakness Stakes, Commanding Curve was right on California Chrome's heels at the Kentucky Derby before finishing in second place.
The horse displayed truly impressive closing speed to narrow the gap on the eventual winner, but he simply ran out of room.
That will not be a problem at Belmont, which features a 1 1/2-mile track. While many competitors run out of gas, Commanding Curve will be able to come on strong and attempt to pass whomever is in the lead.
Mike Welsch of Daily Racing Form was impressed watching the thoroughbred's endurance:
Commanding Curve does not have the top speed of some of the other challengers in the field, and he has not won many races, but his ability to remain near the front of the pack and close strong will help him in this event.
Ride On Curlin (12-1)
The best thing Ride On Curlin has going for him is his consistency. In 11 career starts, the horse has finished in at least third place in nine of them, including two wins.
Most notably, Ride On Curlin finished in second place at both the Preakness Stakes and the Arkansas Derby, both of which are Grade 1 events.
At the two Triple Crown races, the contender had to overcome poor starting positions way on the outside. He was No. 18 of 19 horses at Churchill Downs before drawing the No. 10 post of 10 at Pimlico.
This time, he will be right in the middle at the No. 5 post. As a result, veteran jockey John Velazquez should be able to get the horse into good position to challenge for the lead.
Additionally, Ride On Curlin is another horse who could be at his best on the longer track. Trainer Billy Gowan explained, via the New York Racing Association:
With a strong performance and a little bit of luck, the runner-up at Preakness will improve upon his result and earn a victory at Belmont.
General a Rod (20-1)
Like Ride On Curlin, General a Rod will compete in all three Triple Crown events. Unfortunately, things have not gone as well for this horse. He finished 11th at the Kentucky Derby before improving to fourth at Preakness.
However, trainer Mike Maker feels that his competitor is capable of much more. He explained why he entered the Belmont to Brian Zipse of Horse Racing Nation.
"I see no reason not to go," Maker said. "There was no reason to rush into a decision, in my opinion. We waited it out, and the horse [General A Rod] told us to go. I felt good before the Preakness and I feel good before the Belmont. One of these times we’re going to have a clean run and go from there."
Helping him have a clean run will be jockey Rosie Napravnik, who has quickly become one of the top riders in the sport. She currently ranks fourth among jockeys in 2014 earnings and has won 22 percent of her starts.
Although Napravnik is yet to win a Triple Crown race, she knows how to get the best out of her horse and put it in good position to win.
General a Rod has more talent that he has shown in the past two starts, but the experience is only going to help him. He should be able to get a clean start from one of the outer posts and find a way to stay in the hunt until the end.
At the very least, he has the talent to challenge for a top-three spot.
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