Handicapping The Belmont Stakes 'New Shooters'

Handicapping The Belmont Stakes 'New Shooters'

Category : News - Fri 06/06/2014 - 15:32 EDT

A closer look at the new horses that will go to the gate to try for an upset over California Chrome reveals why at least three are facing very long odds.

Given the fact California Chrome has already beaten six of the 10 runners he will face in the $1.5 million Grade I Belmont Stakes, handicappers looking for an upset may be looking at the four “new shooters’ in the race, those being Matterhorn, Matuszak, Commissioner and Tonalist. Both Matterhorn and Commissioner are Todd Pletcher trainees, and will break from posts 3 and 8, respectively, under jockeys Joe Bravo and Jose Castellano. Matuszak, trained by Bill Mott, will break from post 6 and gets the services of veteran Mike Smith, while the Christophe Clement-trained Tonalist will start in post 11 with Joel Rosario in the irons.

The two Ms appear to have little-to-no chance

Based on recent form both Matterhorn and Matuszak appear to be easy tosses. After breaking his maiden first out at Aqueduct late last year, Matterhorn has yet to again make it to the winners’ circle in three subsequent starts, including a tenth and a third in allowance company. A month a go he tried graded-stakes company in the Grade II Peter Pan at Belmont and was no factor, finishing fourth. Matuszak, meanwhile, only has a maiden win in eight lifetime races, although he has hit the board recently in lower-level stakes. Both horses are 30-1 in the morning line.

Tonalist will have to overcome some issues

Tonalist (8-1) has been drawing attention based on winning the Peter Pan, and like Matterhorn, he’s lightly raced, the Belmont only his fifth start. The two factors working against him are gate position and weight. The Belmont starts in front of the grandstand, and he’ll have to burn a lot of energy early to not get caught wide in the first turn. Although he broke his maiden carrying 122 pounds, the 126 he’ll carry in the Belmont is nine more than when he won the Peter Pan, a significant increase for a 1 1/2 miles race. That leaves Commissioner (20-1), second to Tonalist in the Peter Pan. Winless in his last four, he at least has some experience on his side, as the Belmont will be his fifth straight graded-stakes try.

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