Dry conditions expected for American Pharoah's Triple Crown run in Saturday's Belmont Stakes
By Mark Leberfinger, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
Track conditions shouldn't be a factor on Saturday for the final jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown: the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes in New York.
American Pharoah, which won the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on a sloppy racetrack and the Kentucky Derby on a dry track, is the race favorite of the Belmont's eight-horse field.
It looks to be dry and comfortable with low humidity, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.
"It will probably be in the low to mid-70s at post time (6:50 p.m. EDT Saturday), Pydynowski said.
The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978.
"The Triple Crown is three races over a five-week span, and horses in this generation generally don't race that often. In addition, the Belmont Stakes is run at 1 ½ miles, a distance that none of the horses is proven at," said veteran horse racing analyst and handicapper Michael Dempsey of TurfnSport.com.
What also makes it so tough is that some horses that race in the Kentucky Derby skip the Preakness, and come into the Belmont Stakes fresher than the horse going for the Triple Crown, Dempsey said.
"Three of the last six Belmont Stakes winners ran in the Derby and skipped the Preakness -Palace Malice (2013), Union Rags (2012) and Summer Bird (2009). Last year's winner Tonalist did not run in either the Derby or Preakness. We have to go back to Afleet Alex in 2005 to find the last Belmont Stakes winner that competed in the Preakness," he said.
American Pharoah looks like a Triple Crown winner, but it's a difficult road to run, Dempsey said.
"There is no doubt American Pharoah is the best of his generation. He has won six races in a row and by a combined 30 ¼ lengths. His odds have been below even money since winning the Preakness, currently at 2-3 at Odds Shark," he said.
"We have seen some heavy favorites fall short including Smarty Jones in 2004 and Big Brown in 2008, who looked like 'sure things.' If there is an upset, it seems likely to come from a horse that ran in the Derby and skipped the Preakness, with Frosted and Materiality fitting that bill," he said.