Alert on pos­si­ble spoil­ers

A look at who might pre­vent Amer­i­can Pharoah from win­ning the Triple Crown.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Bill Dwyre

EL­MONT, N.Y. — With Amer­i­can Pharoah a 3-5 morn­ing-line fa­vorite in Satur­day’s $1.5-mil­lion Bel­mont Stakes, you’ll need to bet the house on him to get a porch.

Ob­vi­ously, there is more at stake than a $2 wa­ger.

There hasn’t been a Triple Crown in the sport since Af­firmed in 1978, and Bob Baf­fert’s Pharoah feels like a king in the mak­ing.

If noth­ing else, it seems as if it is about time.

But gam­blers are al­ways look­ing for value and 3-5 odds don’t of­fer much. This brings the ever-present need to ex­plore other pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Here are the spoil­ers, and why they might be con­sid­ered so:

Frosted and trainer Kiaran McLaugh­lin

Frosted was fourth in the Ken­tucky Derby and didn’t run in the Preak­ness. Yes, he is one of those that makes Cal­i­for­nia Chrome owner Steve Coburn foam at the mouth. A fresh horse.

Frosted is sec­ond choice in the morn­ing line odds at 5-1. He has fin­ished out of the money only twice in eight races.

McLaugh­lin, a vet­eran trainer, has won a Bel­mont with Jazil in 2006 and is cur­rently on a run of win­ning at a 35% rate in his barn in the last three months.

Nor does he show any soft spots for the prospect of hav­ing a Triple Crown win­ner.

“We hope peo­ple are boo­ing us af­ter the race,” he said.

Jockey Gary Stevens

He will ride Tale Of Verve, who fin­ished sec­ond in the Preak­ness, al­beit a less-thanim­pres­sive seven lengths be­hind.

It was Stevens, on Fir­ing Line, who looked as if he would be the main threat to Amer­i­can Pharoah and Dort­mund go­ing into the Derby. But when Fir­ing Line wasn’t the least bit in­ter­ested in fir­ing in the Preak­ness — “He wanted no part of all the kick­back in the mud,” Stevens said — the 52-year-old savvy rider hap­pily jumped on Tale Of Verve.

His pedi­gree is sub­stan­tially bet­ter than his horse’s. He has won all the Triple Crown races at least once — three Ken­tucky Der­bies — and is seek­ing his fourth Bel­mont ti­tle.

The clos­est any horse has come to win­ning the Triple Crown since Af­firmed is Real Quiet in 1998. He was beaten by a nose — more like a nose hair — and the rider aboard the horse that won, Victory Gal­lop, was Stevens.

Jockey Mike Smith

The savvy rider Stevens has a good friend who is pretty savvy him­self. Smith will ride long­shot Fram­mento.

Smith is three years younger than Stevens, but no less pro­fi­cient. He made an art form out of ral­ly­ing Zeny­atta from 20 lengths back and is con­sid­ered to be the best bi­grace rider go­ing. He has won the Bel­mont twice in the last five years — with Drosselmeyer in 2010 and Palace Mal­ice in 2013.

Trainer Nick Zito

He has the horse Smith will ride, and de­spite the likely long odds, Zito is a vet­eran of spoil­ing Bel­mont par­ties.

In 2004, while the world was fall­ing in love with Smarty Jones and his Triple Crown prospects, Zito had a long­shot named Bird­stone. Smarty Jones had things pretty well in hand, head­ing down the home­stretch, but there came Bird­stone and there went the Triple Crown.

Four years later, when Big Brown ap­peared ready to shrug off the Bel­mont field and win the Triple, Zito went to the win­ners’ cir­cle with Da’Tara.

Jockey Kent De­sormeaux

De­sormeaux was aboard Big Brown when the bot­tom seemed to fall out on the fi­nal turn in that 2008 Bel­mont. He was also aboard Real Quiet, when Stevens got the jump at the wire with Victory Gal­lop in 1998.

It’s not as if De­sormeaux can’t han­dle this stuff. He won the Bel­mont in 2009 with Sum­mer Bird and has won five other Triple Crown races.

But when it comes to the Triple Crown it­self, he may be due. He will ride Keen Ice, son of Curlin, for trainer Dale Ro­mans.

Trainer Todd Pletcher

No­to­ri­ous for load­ing up for the Bel­mont, the vet­eran Pletcher, al­ways with one of the big­gest sta­bles in the coun­try and with seven Eclipse Awards to his name, will start two horses.

One, Ma­te­ri­al­ity, is the third choice at a 6-1 morn­ing line. Ma­te­ri­al­ity had a bad trip in the Ken­tucky Derby and f lew at the end to fin­ish sixth. Then he skipped the Preak­ness, and will be among the more in­trigu­ing choices for gam­blers.

Pletcher’s other en­try, Made­from­lucky, had enough points to get into the Ken­tucky Derby, but was held out, as he was the Preak­ness. He has 12-1 morn­ing-line odds and vet­eran New York rider Javier Castel­lano.

Mub­taahij

He ran eighth in the Derby in his first-ever U.S. start, has been given 10-1 odds by the morn­ing-line maker, is trained by highly re­spected in­ter­na­tional con­di­tioner Mike De Kock and is the only horse in the field, other than Amer­i­can Pharoah, who has earned more than $1 mil­lion.

He has $1,461,332, Pharoah $3,730,300. bill.dwyre@la­times.com Twit­ter: @DwyreLATimes

Theo Wargo Getty Images for Grey Goose

JOCKEY Mike Smith, left, who will ride long­shot Fram­mento, has won Bel­mont twice in the last five years; trainer Todd Pletcher, who has seven Eclipse Awards, will have Ma­te­ri­al­ity and Made­from­lucky in the race.

Danny John­ston As­so­ci­ated Press

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