NEW YORK -- This afternoon at Rockefeller Center, the post draw for the 147th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes was conducted for the eight horses heading to the gate at approximately 6:48 p.m. on Saturday evening.
The morning line favorite American Pharoah (3-5) will start his journey to become thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner from post 5 in the 1 ½-mile race termed the Test of a Champion.
Belmont Park will host the final jewel of the Triple Crown before a nationally-televised audience and an expected crowd nearing 90,000.
The field is the smallest since 2007, when Rags to Riches edged out Curlin to become the first filly since 1905 to win the Belmont.
Fun Facts and Quotations:
- Horses starting with the letter A have won the Belmont Stakes (10) since 1905. The letter C boasts the most winners with 20.
- American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert, seeking his first Triple Crown in his fourth attempt, was indifferent about the post. "I don't really think it's a horrible post position. I've always liked the five. It's one I've had good luck with. The main thing is that the horse is doing well; I think that's the most important thing.”
- The bay colt will seek to become the 56th of that color in the race's history to don the carnations.
- Speaking of the carnation blanket, more than 700 select carnations from Colombia are glued by hand onto a green velveteen spread. A similar, smaller blanket is created and will be hanging on the statue of Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, in the paddock.
- On Tuesday, the Triple Crown trophy left its environs in the Kentucky Derby Museum to make its way to the Big Apple for this weekend's activities. The trophy was created in 1950 via the Thoroughbred Racing Association and designed by the world famous Cartier Jewelry Company it was bestowed on the previous eight winners of the Triple Crown retroactively. It wasn't officially awarded to a winner at Belmont (third jewel) until 23 years later to the great Secretariat. The three-sided vase, each face equally representing the three races (jewels) of the Triple Crown, is a permanent trophy awarded to the winner with engraved information on each side describing each victory.
- Post Position No. 1 has the most wins since 1905, with 23. Mubtaahij (10-1) drew the rail for trainer Mike de Kock and will have American rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.
- Frosted was made the second choice on the morning line at 5-1 and drew post No. 6 for trainer Kiaran McLauglin. He had no qualms about his middle post position. “We weren't looking for any specific draw but in the middle is always a great place to be. In a mile-and-a-half race, they will all have plenty of time to sort it all out. Materiality drew well, eight of eight, as did American Pharoah, five of eight, and they'll probably be the first two into the first turn and we'll probably be third to six and from there we'll let Joel (Rosario) work it out,” said McLaughlin.
- Trainer Todd Pletcher has two horses in the race, Materiality (6-1), the third choice and Madefromlucky (12-1), the Peter Pan winner. Materiality drew perfectly on the far outside, and outside of the favorite, a position I have to believe Pletcher is relishing. “I like the fact that we drew outside of American Pharoah. We're going to make sure we break well this time and go into the first turn trying to make sure there's an honest pace," said Pletcher.
- Gary Stevens will ride Tale of Verve (15-1), the second-place finisher in the Preakness, and will be seeking his fourth Belmont Stakes riding win in his 11th career mount in the race.
The News will be on site in Elmont on Thursday and will have a preview of Friday’s late Pick-3 and Saturday’s undercard at the Sports, Ink blog which features nine graded stakes and over $8 million in purses. On Saturday we'll have a Belmont preview in print with a post-race commentary on Sunday morning.
Here's a look at the field for the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes:
|1||Mubtaahij||de Kock||I Ortiz, Jr.||10-1|
|2||Tale of Verve||Stewart||Stevens||15-1|
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.