Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Lower odds in the Preakness for California Chrome than the Belmont?


With only six days to go before the 2014 Preakness, it looks like a sure thing that California Chrome will be odds-on to extend his winning streak to six. Not only has the son of Lucky Pulpit been impressive in each of his four wins in 2014, including last week's Kentucky Derby, but many of his most dangerous opposition will be sitting this one out, awaiting their chance to test the current division leader at 12 furlongs in the Belmont Stakes. Because of this, I'm expecting, following a victory in the Preakness, for his odds to actually rise for the Belmont.


Due to the specter of 12 furlongs, three races in five weeks, and most importantly, fresh tigers like; Danza, Commanding Curve, Wicked Strong, and Tonalist awaiting him in the Big Apple, I believe that no matter how impressively California Chrome wins in Baltimore, bettors will be ready to take their chances that he will become the 12th horse in a row to lose the Belmont after having won the Derby and Preakness. It would be an unusual circumstance for a Triple Crown chaser to have higher odds in the Belmont than the Preakness, but there is precedence. 


Since 1970, 15 horses have run in the Belmont after having won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Of those 15, three were bet down lower in the Preakness than the Belmont. Below is a chart of each of the 15, with their odds throughout their Triple Crown run...





















1978 - Affirmed and Alydar. Alydar and Affirmed. It's hard to say one's name without including the other. After defeating Alydar in the Kentucky Derby, it was assumed that Affirmed would have an easier time beating his top rival at the shorter distance in the Preakness as compared to the 12 furlongs, wide sweeping turns, and home field advantage to be enjoyed by Alydar in the Belmont. Sure enough, even after repeating the Derby result in the Preakness, the pair's odds were quite a bit closer together in the Belmont.


1979 - In the Preakness, Spectacular Bid towered over only four others. His odds of 1-10 accurately reflected his chances to win the Middle Jewel. He did win in Baltimore, and did so easily, but in the Belmont, he faced a bigger field that included the 13-length Peter Pan winner, Coastal. If bettors knew about his safety pin punctured hoof, or the overeager ride he would receive from Ron Franklin, they would have bet him less than the 3-10 odds of his biggest upset. 


2008 - As dominant as Big Brown was in the Derby and the Preakness, it would have seemed that his odds against a weak field in the Belmont would be as low as odds go, but questions of a quarter crack, not to mention the announcement of the discontinued use of steroids, put just enough doubt in bettors' minds to see his odds actually rise a bit for the Belmont. Those with doubt were proved right, as the Rick Dutrow charge came up completely empty on Belmont Day.


Of course, this article will become a moot point if California Chrome is upset in the Preakness, but how many of us really expect anyone to knock him off at Pimlico?


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Older Comments about Lower odds in the Preakness for California Chrome than the Belmont?...

Won't be any odds if he doesn't run because of the nasal strip issue..owners already upset because of the Kentucky unhospitality..
In 1999 Charismatic was at a great price, Menefee- who finished second in the KY Derby was the chalk. but, they finished 1-2 again making for a nicer EX pay-out.
Oh heck, they will be a number of New York bettors betting against California Chrome on three fronts alone...the name of California, being bred in California, and raced prior to the Triple Crown in California. I can hear Tom Durkin now saying...'well, there goes that horse from California to the front...". And then a groan from several New Yorkers.
Once she loses the Acorn to House Rules, she can still run in the Haskell, seeing as California Chrome won't be thete
Surprised they aren't even considering Untapable for the Belmont
  • reagbeag · Agreed. Not going to bash 'Chrome but Untapable is easily the best 3 year old right now. · 1290 days ago
What if she loses the Acorn?
I love the chart, Brian. I think Cali Chrome will be more than a dime or two higher in the Belmont than in the Preakness. He will be even money or so, even with all of the souvenir tcikets.
Untapable will face the boys in the Haskell after running in the Acorn.
I'd much rather see her in the Acorn.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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