If you ask the media, American Pharoah will falter in his pursuit of the Triple Crown in the 147th Belmont Stakes Saturday in Elmont, New York.

Yet trainers and jockeys based at Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby, where the colt’s journey began five weeks ago, believe he’s capable of ending the 37-year Triple Crown drought. If he wins the Belmont, Pharoah would become the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since 1978, the New York Times reported.

Of the 10 expert predictions below, it’s an even 5-5 split on American Pharoah’s chances to wear horse racing’s most distinguished honor. Four of the five experts who projected a victory call horse racing their everyday job. NYT “The Rail” columnist Melissa Hoppert was the only member of the press to pick American Pharoah, the misspelling of which has provoked much media attention (the correct spelling is "Pharaoh").

Hoppert’s projection wasn’t necessarily based on American Pharoah’s success thus far, but rather her previous predictions for the Derby and Preakness Stakes.

“He has won six straight and looks no worse for the wear. I picked against him in the Derby and the Preakness, and I won’t make that mistake again,” Hoppert wrote.

After American Pharoah, Hoppert picked his closest competitor in the morning lines, Frosted, as the runner-up and Materiality to place.

The Times' Joe Drape chose Materiality to pull off what would constitute a minor upset, joining veteran CBS Sports reporter and handicapper Hank Goldberg in not picking American Pharoah.

“I think it’s not gonna happen,” Goldberg said. “Todd Pletcher, who trains Materiality, who can run from the front end as he demonstrated in winning the Florida Derby. I think he’s gonna send that horse and try to keep the Pharoah from getting the lead. And if does that, we could have a speed duel which would set it up for a horse to come from off the pace.

“Now I think the horse who’s best suited for that, and the highest quality one, is a horse called Frosted, who won a race in New York previously with that kind of a running style.”

Goldberg also liked 20/1 longshot Keen Ice as the runner-up, with American Pharoah placing to complete his exacta box.

The skepticism is reasonable, given the 13 Triple Contenders to come and go since Affirmed last won it all in 1978. Four horses have reached as high as second place, with Smarty Jones the last to come close in 2004. Last year, darling of the field California Chrome finished in a tie for fourth place.

But trainers and jockeys told paulickreport.com they like American Pharoah, suggesting he’s the top talent in the eight-deep field. With a little luck, he’ll prevail.

“I think he can do it. He’s the best horse in the race,” Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel said. “The only thing that he needs is a little bit of luck. He’s a powerful horse. Just looking at his dimension, it’s all there and the talent is there. The big question is the distance.”

The experts' picks are below, followed by the latest odds from Sportsbook.ag.

Expert Predictions for Belmont Stakes

Joe Drape, New York Times

Prediction: Materiality, Madefromlucky, Frosted

Melissa Hoppert, New York Times

Prediction: American Pharoah, Frosted, Materiality

Kevin Martin, CBS Philadelphia

Prediction: Frosted

Hank Goldberg, CBS Sports

Prediction: Frosted, Keen Ice, American Pharoah

Jon Fauber, PennLive.com

Prediction: Frosted

J. Keeler Johnson, Blood-Horse.com

Prediction: Materiality

D. Wayne Lukas, Trainer

Prediction: American Pharoah

Murat Sancal, Trainer

Prediction: American Pharoah

Channing Hill, Jockey

Prediction: American Pharoah

Calvin Borel, Hall of Fame Jockey

Prediction: American Pharoah


1. Mubtaajih 12/1

2. Tale of Verve 16/1

3. Madefromlucky 12/1

4. Frammento 25/1

5. American Pharoah 2/3

6. Frosted 6/1

7. Keen Ice 20/1

8. Materiality 6/1