A new contender entered the mix to thwart American Pharoah’s Triple Crown Bid Thursday.
The Truth or Else, whose connections include trainer Kenneth G. McPeek and owner Harold Lerner, appears likely to enter the 147th Belmont Stakes on Saturday June 6 in New York.
According to the latest odds from Bovada.lv, The Truth Or Else, who owns one victory in 11 career starts, opens as a 40/1 longshot in the now 10-thoroughbred field. However, McPeek does have a history of upending American Pharoah’s trainer Bob Baffert.
A 62-year-old horse racing Hall of Famer, Baffert’s in the midst of his fourth attempt at the Triple Crown, with McPeek’s Sarava playing the role of spoiler to Baffert’s War Emblem at the Belmont in 2002.
The Yes It’s True three-year-old colt already lost to American Pharoah twice this year, placing seventh at the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and fourth at the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes.
Yet McPeek decided to point The Truth Or Else towards the final jewel of the Triple Crown because of his recent 1 1/2-length victory on May 22 at the Belmont and his affinity for the track.
"My horse loves the Belmont track," McPeek told the New York Racing Association. "He has two starts and two wins on a dry track at Belmont. And he's out of a Colonial Affair mare [Lakenheath] so he should get the distance. His last race was a confidence builder. He got a good time and an excellent speed figure. His last two races have set him up for this. He really needed to win his last race, which he did."
Familiarity and confidence on the track didn’t help Preakness contender Bodhisattva against American Pharoah. More than a month before the Preakness Bodhisattva secured the checkered flag at the Federico Tesio, also held at Pimlico, and finished last among eight contenders in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Victorious in his last six starts, American Pharoah remains the prohibitive favorite to win the Belmont and be the first to wear Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978 at 5/6 odds. Sired by 2009 Kentucky Derby-runner-up Pioneer of the Nile, American Pharoah charged to a one-length triumph at Churchill Downs earlier this month and two weeks later slopped through the Preakness for a win by more than seven lengths.
But the Belmont and its 1 1/2-mile long track represent a much more difficult challenge for American Pharoah and Baffert, as the 13 other contenders since Affirmed have learned over the last 37 years. The most recent example is California Chrome, who became the darling of the sport last year after two unlikely wins at the Derby and Preakness before tying for fourth at the Belmont.
The betting public appears to be split on whether American Pharoah can complete what’s become one of the more elusive feats in all of sports. The chances American Pharoah wins or loses are currently set at -120.
The full list of updated odds is below, with no movement over the last few days.
Betting Odds via Bovada.lv
American Pharoah 5/6
Carpe Diem 12/1
Tale of Verve 20/1
Keen Ice 25/1
The Truth or Else 40/1
Correction: A previous version of this story listed Pioneer Of The Nile as the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner. He was the runner-up that year.