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2014 Belmont Stakes Contenders: Commissioner

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Todd Pletcher's Commissioner will try to spoil the California Chrome party at the Belmont Stakes.

Money, money, money, money. MONEY!
Money, money, money, money. MONEY!
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Commissioner

Ringweekend_medium

Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Sire: A.P. Indy
Damsire: Touch Gold (Flaming Heart)

Record: 6-2-1-1
Earnings: $235,767

Notable Races: G1-Arkansas Derby (6th); G3-Sunland Derby (3rd); G2-Fountain of Youth (6th)

Strengths

Even thought Commissioner has a bit of a "good race, bad race" pattern this spring, he's been able to run a quality race against graded stakes competition on an occasion. He was well-beaten by Tonalist in the Peter Pan on May 10, but he was the clear second best runner that day as he finished a good 2 ¼ lengths ahead of the show horse. The Peter Pan is his only start over a sloppy and sealed track, and it was the best race of his career. I suppose that's good news if it were to rain in New York on Saturday.

Weaknesses

Commissioner has put forth some good efforts against stakes company, and he's also thrown in just as many clunkers. He was beaten over ten lengths in both the Arkansas Derby and the Fountain of Youth and, to be fair, both of those races look much strong than his good efforts in the Peter Pan and the Sunland Derby. In short, it's a question mark as to whether Commissioner has the class to contend for win honors against this solid field in the Belmont. Not only does he have to be better than California Chrome (which, on paper, he's far behind), but he needs to be better than Ride On Curlin, Wicked Strong, Samraat, and any of the other runners in this field that have at least proven themselves capable of winning a race at this level.

Final Thoughts

If I'm just looking to put together a ticket (or tickets) with a bunch of bombs, then Commissioner would be a logical choice. If I'm trying to figure out a horse with a legitimate shot to win this race, I'm looking elsewhere. I suppose the connections are enough to entice a play unless we want to end up with another Danza situation, but even with the Pletcher/WinStar combination, it's hard for me to get excited about Commissioner's chances to win the Belmont.

But, hey, it's the Belmont, who knows what long shot is ready to spoil the party?