A lot happened at Belmont Park on June 7. Going into Belmont Stakes Day, all eyes were on California Chrome, as he attempted to become only the 12th horse to sweep America’s Triple Crown. A win in the Belmont and it would have been game, set, and match in the race for Horse of the Year, but the son of Lucky Pulpit came up a little short. Game on. Speaking strictly of the quest to become Horse of the Year, the biggest beneficiary of California Chrome’s first loss of 2014 was Palace Malice. Running on the same card at Belmont that day, Palace Malice uncorked his best performance to date with a sharp win in the historic and prestigious Met Mile. Continuing his march to the top of the dirt racing mountain, the four-year old Dogwood runner now occupies the top spot jointly with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. California Chrome and Palace Malice both sit at 5-2 in the current 2014 Horse of the Year future bet odds as listed by William Hill.
While California Chrome enjoys some well earned rest and relaxation before resurfacing for a prep and then the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on November 1, Palace Malice hopes to keep the victory train rolling when he returns in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga in early August.
Another pair who saw their stock rise considerably on Belmont Day include the runaway Woody Stephens winner Bayern (50-1), and the lightly raced Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist (25-1). More recently, the undefeated juvenile champion Shared Belief (25-1) returned to the conversation with an impressive win in the Los Alamitos Derby.
One of the more interesting propositions on the Horse of the Year future list is the sensational three-year-old filly Untapable. Despite the presence of a trio of highly respected older fillies; Close Hatches, Princess of Sylmar, and Beholder, the young daughter of Tapit continues to be the shortest priced female on the list at 14-1. An overpowering winner of the Rachel Alexandra, Fair Grounds Oaks, Kentucky Oaks, and recent Mother Goose, Untapable could go a long way in strengthening her HOTY case by accepting an invitation to her toughest test to date in the July 27 Haskell at Monmouth Park.
I know what you are thinking … what about the two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan? Don’t worry, no one has forgotten about Dan the Man. Currently recovering swimmingly from colic surgery, the seven-year-old gelding is 2-for-2 in grade 1 stakes this year, and with the happy news of his recovery and impending return to the races, his odds have dropped down to 8-1.
Another at 8-1 is the defending Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, Mucho Macho Man, who is also in recovery mode, after a minor injury. The six-year-old powerhouse looks to make another run for the top prize with a similar Awesome Again-Breeders’ Cup Classic combo that worked so well for him last year.
Clearly the favorites are favored for a reason, and deserve to be on top of the list, but in looking over the list, one horse that caught my eye as potential value is the eye-opening winner of the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, Majestic Harbor. The six-year-old’s career has been rejuvenated since being transplanted to California, and we already know that he can stay the trip. At 50-1, I think he deserves a look.
Future bet wagering from William Hill on the Horse of the Year will conclude within a week after this year’s World Championships, on November 7, and the Horse of the Year announcement will be made at the 44th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony on January 17 at Gulfstream Park.