Belmont Stakes and 6 Theories on 36-Year Triple Crown Drought

American Pharoah poised to make history, or maybe not.

Here are some of them:

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quicklist: 2Category: The Triple Crowntitle: Too Short Recovery Timetext: Three top-flight races in five weeks is a barnyard of stress for any horse, especially with the longer mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes completing the cycle in New York. "A lot of horses can handle the Derby and the Preakness, and can't handle the Belmont," Louie Roussel III, who was trainer and co-owner of 1988 Preakness and Belmont winner Risen Star, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 2010. "The mile and a half is the true test of a champion."

Indeed, there has been a call to stretch the races out over three months. “I think it’s a possibility that it could occur in the next couple of years,” Stuart Janney III, the vice chairman of the Jockey Club and a member of the New York Racing Association’s board, told The New York Times last year.

But not that everyone complains about the grueling schedule. "The Triple Crown is like an Ironman contest,” Roussel said. “This is what makes the thing so wonderful."

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quicklist: 3Category: The Triple Crowntitle: Too Many Prep Racestext: Renowned horse trainer D. Wayne Lukas has pointed to the increasing importance of prep races to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, which take their toll. "Before, you didn't have to work up so hard in February and March to get ready for the Derby," he told the Times-Picayune.

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quicklist: 4Category: The Triple Crowntitle: Too Much Speed Focustext: Lukas, 78, also pointed to breeders who sacrifice endurance for speed. "I think there's a trend to horses that look a little quicker," he said. "Distance horses are longer and leaner."

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quicklist: 5Category: The Triple Crowntitle: Too Much Attentiontext: The Derby and Preakness winner is always a marked colt. And what competing owner wouldn't savor the thrill of spoiling the race for the horse with the most to lose, a coveted Triple Crown.

This year, for instance, neither of two horses - Frosted and Materiality - given the best shot at knocking off American Pharoah raced in the Baltimore Preakness three weeks ago. That kind of rest might work in their favor Saturday.

“It’s going to be tough,” American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert told the New York Times last month after the Preakness win. “I know everybody right now is sharpening their knives, getting ready.”

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quicklist: 6Category: The Triple Crowntitle: Too Little Lucktext: Yes, speed is paramount, along with resiliency and a jockey who knows his or her horse. But a touch of good fortune doesn't hurt, either. Derby-Preakness winner California Chrome could have used some at Belmont last year before another horse stepped on the colt’s heel out of the gate and he finished a disappointing fourth in a dead heat, marking the 36th year of Triple Crown futility.

Four would be luckiest number Saturday for Baffert, American Pharoah’s trainer, who has been this close to a Triple Crown with three other horses before coming up short at Belmont.

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