Andy Serling has been playing the horses for almost his entire life, and is currently the co-host of NYRA Live. To follow Andy on Twitter, click here.
I know, there’s a Triple Crown on the line, and it’s all very exciting ( honestly ), but there’s other business at hand…and we have at least two million reasons why it’s time to focus on more than just the Belmont Stakes. NYRA will be offering two one million dollar guarantees culminating with the Belmont Stakes, the Pick-6 beginning with the 6th race, the Easy Goer ( hey, he spoiled a Triple Crown bid! ), as well as the Pick-4, beginning with the 8th race, the Longines Just a Game. Let’s stop wasting time and get started taking these races apart.
The Easy Goer is one of those races where I am committed to playing a horse, though one that may not be quite good enough, but also one that I feel is better than he looks at first glance. That horse is Romancing the Gold. I will freely admit that I am somewhat biased, as I was a fan of his after his maiden win, and made a score betting him when he won his second to last start. However, that win may be a little bit better than it looks on paper. Romancing the Gold attended a relatively taxing pace and easily defeated favored Inflation Target, who will be a far shorter price than him in the Easy Goer. The horse to beat is Teeth of the Dog by virtue of his third place finish in the Wood Memorial. Surely the Easy Goer is a far more realistic spot for that one than his last, the Preakness, where he barely lifted a hoof. Given the expected pace in this race, Teeth of the Dog should work out a favorable trip as well. Skyring and the aforementioned Inflation Target appear to be the other major players.
The True North Handicap came up an interesting puzzle where the pieces don’t necessarily fit together very easily given the diverging paths the contestants have taken towards Saturday’s destination. Can Giant Ryan, the NY Bred hero of last Fall’s Grade 1 Vosburgh, refind his form after a failed trip to Dubai? Can California’s Smiling Tiger regain his 2011 form, when he once a leading contender for the Best Sprinter Eclipse Award, after one poor effort at Churchill Downs on Derby Day? How about the lightly raced Pacific Ocean, unsighted since an easy win in Hollywood Park’s Vernon Underwood on Thanksgiving weekend? Pacific Ocean has since been sold to new owners and switched to the dangerous Rick Dutrow barn. While drawing the rail could place him in a precarious position, especially with the speedy Crossbow breaking on his flank, I will take my chances that he will overcome those obstacles and win this wide open race. For back up, I am interested in Caixa Eletronica, who returns just 12 days after finishing fourth in the brilliant Met Mile, and turns back in distance from one mile to Saturday’s six furlongs.
The $1 Million guaranteed Pick-4 begins in the next race, the Longines Just a Game Stakes. This appears to be the simplest leg to get through in the sequence, as realistically only Winter Memories, Hungry Island, and Tapitsfly can win this race. Tapitsfly’s chances are enhanced due to the relative lack of speed in the race, while Winter Memories ( who is very good but also always very overbet ) and Hungry island are the two most talented members of the field. It will be VERY hard to beat all three of these. I prefer Hungry Island, but will still use all three.
Things get extremely interesting in the Woody Stephens, presented by Visitnassaucounty.com, Saturday’s 9th race. Trinniberg, returning to a more appropriate distance after an ill-advised run in the Kentucky Derby, is the horse to beat, but how tough the pace scenario plays out will go a long ways towards deciding both his fate and that of the more speed challenged contestants. Il Villano’s speed should keep things more honest up front and I am looking towards two likely closers to upset the Stephens applecart. Hardened Wildcat has been compromised by two straight tepid paces, one that helped Trinniberg annex the Bay Shore, as well as being interfered with at the start of his last. He showed his potential with a fast win in the Fred Capposela three back, his last fairly run race. A return to that form can win this race at a price. My other main use is Isn’t He Clever. Isn’t He Clever showed his quality with an excellent second two back in the Sunland Derby, where despite moving too soon into a very fast pace, he almost held on to victory going a more demanding 1 1/8 miles. Like many, he was left in the wake of Bodemeister’s Arkansas Derby devastation in his subsequent start, and has since been moved to the potent Steve Asmussen barn. A trainer change and a turn back in distance make this horse too irresistible for me to pass up on. There are other major players in this deep group including, as mentioned, Trinniberg, Hierro, Bourbon Courage, and Power World, and surely these can be used on wider Pick-4 or Pick-6 tickets, but that depends on your budget.
The Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap is the penultimate challenge of this sequence, and at least from my perspective, it presents a difficult wagering situation. The possible favorite is Hudson Steele, who three weeks ago easily won the precursor to the Preakness, the Dixie Stakes. The positives for this horse are that his tactical speed should move him up in what appears to be a relatively paceless race. The negatives are the added distance is an unknown, the competition is much stronger than the Dixie, and he benefitted from an absolutely perfect trip in that win at Pimlico. All these make me want to play against him at a relatively short price. But, where to go after that? I can use four horses in an attempt to beat Hudson Steele. Boisterous and Desert Blanc, the first two finishers in the Fort Marcy, a local prep for this race, should both move forward at the 1 ¼ mile distance of this Manhattan. Plus, both have the speed so as not to be compromised by any relative lack of pace. Brilliant Speed, who was badly compromised by the lack of pace in his last race, the Turf Classic on Derby Day at Churchill Downs, will also appreciate the extra distance, as will Al Khali, whose better efforts make him usable at a price. My top choice is Boisterous….by a whisker.
But no matter how compelling the earlier stakes races may be, they all pale in comparison to the drama of the 144th Belmont Stakes. There is no doubt, based on his performances in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, that I’ll Have Another is dramatically the horse to beat. While he was able to take advantage of the suicidal pace set by runner-up Bodemeister to win the Kentucky Derby, he was faced with the exact opposite set of circumstances in the Preakness, when the lack of early speed enabled Bodemeister to set a more comfortable pace in Baltimore, and it was there that I’ll Have Another stamped himself as not just another fortunate recipient of circumstance in the biggest race of the year, but a genuine budding superstar that was capable of running exceptionally well under less than ideal conditions. THAT is what separates greatness from the rest of the pack. But even after all that, the question of whether or not he can do it for a third time in five weeks, at the demanding 1 ½ mile distance, cannot be answered until the gate springs for this Belmont. Aside from I’ll Have Another’s natural ability as a racehorse, his tactical speed is another major asset, especially in this Belmont. While Paynter may set the pace, with main challenger Union Rags likely not far behind, I’ll Have Another cannot be tactically compromised, as if the pace is slow, he will be right on it, and if it is fast, he can comfortably rate farther behind. Thus, based on all that, you can’t help but ask “ is this Triple Crown a fait accompli? “ My answer…..” is it ever? “ I think Dullahan is the only serious impediment standing in the way of history. Dullahan, like I’ll Have Another, benefitted from the supersonic Kentucky Derby pace. Unlike I’ll Have Another, he still was not good enough to win, finishing a very respectable third. So why, you ask, do I think things will be different this time? I’m banking on Dullahan, like I’ll Have Another did in the Preakness, taking a major step forward in the Belmont. I think his lightning fast workout, just under 46 seconds for a half mile, the other day at Belmont signifies a horse that has taken a major step forward. Remember, this will only be his fourth start of the year, so a significant improvement is hardly impossible. It is very possible, also, that Dullahan will improve with the added distance, and I expect a competitive pace to also work in his favor in this Belmont Stakes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll Have Another is a big mountain to climb, and he will be on all my multi-race tickets, but when the dust settles, Saturday may well belong to Dullahan.
Well, there you have it. For better or worse, you now have my selections for the Pick-6 and Pick-4 races on Saturday’s terrific Belmont Stakes card. Putting them together into a winning play is another story altogether. However, there are good opportunities for at least decent priced horses throughout the card, that even a spread 50 cent Pick-4 play, one that culminates with a very popular victory by heavily favored I’ll Have Another, will very possibly result in a decent payoff. When you play multi-race bets like the Pick-4 and Pick-6, you never worry about one or two short priced horses winning, because as long as you include some higher priced alternatives throughout the sequence, you give yourself at least the opportunity to cash in big. And, let’s be honest, ultimately isn’t THAT what it’s all about?
In the last 33 years, 11 horses have entered the Belmont Stakes looking to capture the Triple Crown, and none have completed the sweep. Five of those faced a valiant rival from the previous two legs of the series. Of those five, three were defeated by that rival, another lost to a Preakness also ran who had encountered an extremely troubled trip, and the other lost to one who had tried the KY Derby and then prepped for the Belmont in the Peter Pan. Of the other six, four lost to a fresher rival that had not competed in the Triple Crown series. The remaining two lost to strong Kentucky Derby entrants that had skipped the Preakness. So, you ask, what does this mean for I'll Have Another? Maybe nothing, but let's take a brief trip back and see if we can find any clues.
Starting from the top, Spectacular Bid lost to Coastal, who had run a huge race in winning the Peter Pan prior to the Belmont, and was a more than worthy foe. While Bid proved the better of the two, beating Coastal twice later that year, Coastal came into that Belmont Stakes in more formidable fashion than any that will face I'll Have Another. Two years later, Pleasant Colony's Triple Crown attempt was thwarted by Summing, recent winner of the Pennsylvania Derby ( at 36:1 ). While Summing was a shade under 8:1 when he defeated Pleasant Colony, he didn't appear a major threat, and we will thus toss him into the " comparable threat to I'll Have Another " box. Worth noting, Summing finished over 27 lengths behind Pleasant Colony when they met next in the Travers ( Pleasant Colony was second ).
It was six years until the next horse attempted the Triple Crown sweep at Belmont, and when Alysheba made that bid, he would be the first of five straight facing those valiant KY Derby and Preakness rivals. Alysheba was never a factor in the 1987 Belmont Stakes, as Bet Twice, runner-up in both prior Triple Crown races, romped to the easiest of victories. However, Alysheba faced more than the formidable Bet Twice in NY that afternoon, as he was forced to also race without Lasix, which was still banned in NY at that time, something that was not the case in either the Derby or Preakness. In fairness to the mighty Alysheba, he raced without that medication during his entire formidable 4YO campaign that ended with a win in the BC Classic. Fair to say, there is no Bet Twice in the 2012 Belmont Stakes....just as there is also no Easy Goer, the horse who easily disposed of Sunday Silence, and his attempt to sweep the Triple Crown two years later in 1989. After running second to Sunday Silence in the prior two events, losing the Preakness by a nose in a stretch battle for the ages, Easy Goer won the Belmont Stakes by eight lengths, and allowing us New Yorkers to regain a shred of the dignity we had lost during that epic series.
In 1997, Silver Charm lined up against not one serious threat, but two, as Free House ( 3rd in the Derby and 2nd in the Preakness ) was joined by Touch Gold, who ran perhaps the best race of anyone in the Preakness, finishing fourth with a nightmare trip. He handled Free House, but not Touch Gold, though I'll Have Another can rest easy knowing there are no threats like those two in 2012. Same for 1998, when twice second Victory Gallop, under one of the all-time great rides by Gary Stevens, ended Real Quiet's try for immortality by a nose in an unforgettable Belmont Stakes. 1999 was a much different story. While Menifee, second in both prior races, ended up being no threat to Charismatic, the very talented Lemon Drop Kid ( 3rd in the Peter Pan after a 9th place finish in the KY Derby ) did annex the Belmont Stakes. But, with all due respect, it was very possibly a career ending injury that cost Charismatic that Triple Crown title.
In 2002, Sarava beat Medaglia D'Oro, and thus ended War Emblem's Triple Crown dream. However, given he stumbled badly at the start, and was never in a fair position to win the race, I have trouble comparing War Emblem's attempt to I'll Have Another's, who appears neither distance challenged nor a need the lead type runner. In 2003, while Funny Cide was favored perhaps on sentimentality, few serious handicappers were surprised when Derby favorite Empire Maker, who had defeated the NY Bred in the Wood Memorial, slammed the door on his rival's chances. Had that same field lined up in an allowance race on a Thurday afternoon, there is little doubt Empire Maker would have been favored. There are also no Empire Makers waiting in the weeds to face I'll Have Another.
Smarty Jones's failed attempt may be a fair comparison to the challenge facing I'll Have Another. Like Union Rags, Birdstone won the Champagne as a 2YO, and many also felt he was compromised by the sloppy track in the KY Derby, whereas some ( not me ) blame Union Rag's trip for his less than stellar effort. Throw Dullahan into the mix, and compare him to the likes of Rock Hard Ten or Eddington, and perhaps this matchup becomes even more comparable. The same cannot be said for 2008, when unheralded Da'Tara spoiled things for Big Brown, but it was Big Brown that compromised himself, as he was never factor in the race, and no opponent can be used as an excuse for his non-effort.
In review, assuming the consistent I'll Have Another shows up with his usual strong effort, only a Summing or a Birdstone may be standing in his way. Over the next 2 1/2 weeks many will be trying to figure out if that will be the case, and who may assume the spoiler's role. There's always value in determining that rival, and it's been 34 years since there hasn't been at least one, but even in racing, all bad things eventually come to an end.
For some reason, I feel like it always rains on closing day at Saratoga. While I know this isn't true, perhaps because I'm always so depressed to see the greatest place on Earth close for 10 1/2 months that it always feels like a dreary day. However, there is little doubt that September 5th, 2011 was a washout, at least from a precipitation standpoint. On the track, as always, it was a different story. As has been the case for many of my 38 Summers at the Spa, the Hopeful has closed the meet, and it was there that I have seen more than a few stars strut their stuff. It started in 1974, when the day after I saw the immortal Ruffian blow away Laughing Bridge, a substantial talent in her own right, Foolish Pleasure, the eventual 1975 Kentucky Derby winner, won the 70th Hopeful on his way to a 2YO Championship. But, it's hard to believe the twists in the road that led to 2012's Kentucky Derby winner emerging from the 2011 Hopeful.
As the field turned for home, an unlikely 68:1 shot named Trinniberg led the field, with the 9:5 favorite Currency Swap hot on his heels. The others were far behind. While the eventual winner Currency Swap would not race again in 2011, and did not win in his first two 2012 starts ( as I write this he is entered on Saturday May 12th at Belmont ), the runner-up Trinniberg eventually established himself as one of his division's top Sprinters with easy wins in the Swale at Gulfstream and Bay Shore at Aqueduct as a 3YO. Going against common wisdom, his connections chose to run him beyond seven furlongs for the first time in the 2012 Kentucky Derby. While he finished 17th, his participation in the race may very well have had a very positive influence on the ultimate performance of another somewhat improbable member of that strung out Hopeful field.
Top California trainer Doug O'Neill is an infrequent visitor to the NYRA circuit. He has made just 13 starts here, with 10 horses, over the last five years. Six of these ran at Saratoga. One of these was Maryfield, who ( thankfully ) won a desperate head bob in the 2007 Grade 1 Ballerina, her penultimate career start before annexing the inaugural BC Filly&Mare Sprint. Another appeared in the 2011 Hopeful. I'll Have Another, despite a maiden win and a 2nd in the Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar, garnered little attention or mutual support, going off at just under 12:1. And that dismissal appeared justified when I'll Have Another's cross country trip went for naught when he finished 6th, 19 lengths behind the winner. In fact, few of us remembered him at all until he upset the Robert Lewis at Santa Anita, in his next start after the Hopeful, at 43:1 in early February. But even after winning the Santa Anita Derby, over the highly regarded Creative Cause, in his subsequent start, few of us thought we saw another Derby winner that had prepped in the prior year's Hopeful. But, perhaps partly in thanks to Hopeful runner-up Trinniberg, just four weeks later I'll Have Another would become the first Hopeful winner since Affirmed to win the Kentucky Derby.
Many handicappers, myself included, felt that Bodemeister was the most talented entrant in this year's Kentucky Derby. However, somewhat because of the presence of Hansen, but more because of the presence of the speedball Trinniberg, Bodemeister appeared very vulnerable to an unsustainable pace battle. While Bodemeister outran Trinniberg in the kind of pace that in past Derbies has led the leader to finish 16th ( or worse ), as the field turned for home, many thought Bodemeister would accomplish the improbable when he opened up five lengths on his closest opposition. But the extreme pace eventually took its toll, and Bodemeister could barely crack 27 seconds for his final quarter mile, which enabled the talented I'll Have Another, under a flawless ride by Mario Gutierrez, to roll by on his way to victory and a place in history. It is hardly unreasonable, however, to think that had Trinniberg stayed in the barn, Bodemeister would have been able to go at least a little slower early in the race, which would have been enough for him to become the first Kentucky Derby winner to have made his first start as a 3YO.
The 2011 BC Juvenile was an unusually potent race, with not only the top three finishers heading into the Derby with major prep wins, the fourth finisher Dullahan won the Blue Grass Stakes, fifth finisher Take Charge Indy won the Florida Derby, and the 11th, 12th, and 13th finishers all won Derby preps on their way to Kentucky Derby participation. In fact, nine of the 13 in that BC Juvenile entered the gate for this year's Kentucky Derby. However, after the dust had settled, oddly enough it was a Grade 1 race, run in the slop, on a dreary closing day of the 2011 Saratoga meet, that may have portended the outcome of the year's biggest race. One thing's for sure, Saratoga can make for the strangest bedfellows, and no matter what the weather, you never want to miss a day...or even a race.
The heat has cleared out, the barbs continue to fly, and the 143rd Belmont is just hours away. According to the questions on my Live Chat it will be a glorious day, as virtually everyone asked me who I liked in the sloppy/muddy Belmont, thus ensuring a fast track. Let’s get down to business and try to figure out who’s going to win the Belmont Stakes. Hopefully I can salvage a thread of dignity after failing miserably in the first two legs of the TC. I’ve been so bad that even Mucho Macho Man was herd calling for my job recently. Who can blame him?
The problems I have had in the first two legs of the Triple Crown continue to dog me. There have simply been few horses that have run perceptively better on the track than they appear to have run on paper. In looking at any race, especially one where your overall grasp on the contenders is relatively elusive, a good place to start is to separate the possible contenders into groups by running style. I see four groups in this Belmont Stakes…..Shackleford and Prime Cut ( who is overmatched ) heading to the lead along with Mucho Macho Man. Santiva and Nehro will be the second group, stalking close behind, with Animal Kingdom and Brilliant Speed making up the third tier, and Master of Hounds is the final mover, so to speak. Group B likely moves in the vicinity of the ½ mile pole, Group C around the ¼ pole, and Mr. D ( Master of Hounds ) makes the final run. Thus the question, which if any, of the runners from each tier will be able to sustain their runs and hold off the following wave or waves? I guess the key to this will be how fast a pace we have. Personally, I think Shackleford can maintain a reasonable pace ( lets say 24 and change and 48 and change ) and still have enough in reserve to be there at the finish. Can Mucho Macho Man continue grinding at that clip? I am dubious, but his very best races are when he is stalking the pace, and these tactics will give him his best chance. However, he needs to improve off even his best races, and despite his impossible trip in the Preakness ( watch the race again, focusing on him, if you don’t believe me ), I don’t have confidence in him pulling off the minor upset. From Group B, the more popular Nehro, who is still eligible for a NW1X, appears to be the biggest player. He has shown the rare ability to be completely tractable, in that he can sit close to a moderate pace and finish, and make one run from well back in a fast pace. However, even given this versatility, he is a horse that has had perfect trips in all his recent races, and still continues to come up short. Yes, he appears to be improving, and perhaps skipping the Preakness will help him ( though where is the evidence that it will ), but I expect him to be a short priced second choice, in the 3:1 range, and nothing about him appears to justify those kinds of odds, especially at the daunting mile and a half distance. As for Santiva, I ask only one question…..where is his fast race? Right….nowhere. He is a neat horse, who can run well on all surfaces, but ( at least so far ) not quickly enough to compete effectively here, and it’s not as though he had a compromising trip in the KY Derby. He simply wasn’t good enough that day and doesn’t rate to be good enough in the Belmont. Now group C….obviously Animal Kingdom needs no real introduction, and is simply the horse to beat. His KY Derby, albeit with a perfect trip and great ride, definitely showed himself to be, at that time, the best horse in that group. His Preakness was an equally good effort, and only an improved, and superior, effort by Shackleford denied him a chance to become the 12th Triple Crown winner. With the German breeding on his dam side, despite his sire being a miler, he should be able to handle the distance. No sane person, and even this unstable person, would leave him off a multi-race ticket. However, at 8:5ish, I can find better horses to pick on top, and still believe Shackleford ( who I’ll get to more in depth ) will offer better value. As for Brilliant Speed, he did run better than expected in the Derby, while racing very wide, but if the rail was the wrong place to be, being wide may not have been a major handicap. Plus, he clunked along late with a whole bunch of possibly overmatched horses, and still feels like a major question mark on the dirt, at least at this level. But, I would rather take 15:1 on him than somewhere around 3:1 on Nehro, and he is a better horse than Santiva, so he remains on my superfecta ticket. That leaves us with the last mover, the final wave, Master of Hounds. His Derby was a surprisingly good effort, especially given he had last raced in Dubai six weeks earlier, and logged many thousands of miles in back-and-forth travel over the previous few months. He seemed to handle the dirt just fine and was moving along the supposed deeper rail late in the race. Of all the turf-type performers, save Animal Kingdom, his effort was the best, and as the final mover in this Belmont, I consider him a major contender…..but not THE major contender.
Shackleford is the one horse in this field that did something that I consider relatively extraordinary. He won a race, the Preakness, under less than ideal circumstances. He stalked a rapid early pace that was set by a solid sprinter who eventually finished dead last. To hold on under those circumstances is more impressive than making the strongest final move in a collapsing race, as Animal Kingdom did in the KY Derby. Plus, Animal Kingdom had every chance to run him down in Baltimore, and simply wasn’t good enough. Now, the mile and a half might be the great equalizer, and certainly Shackleford has to answer that question as much as anyone, but given that I expect him to be at least 6:1 in this race, he will offer value, and value is what we seek…..whether a $10K Claiming race or the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. My picks are Shackleford-Master of Hounds-Animal Kingdom-Brilliant Speed.
There are five other Stakes races that need some mention. In the TVG Acorn, Turbulent Descent is an overwhelming favorite, and far and away the likeliest winner on the entire card. I have no interest in trying to beat her, and as much as I would like to see It’s Tricky run well, and do consider her the second best horse, I will not bet her against Turbulent Descent. In The True North Handicap ( sponsored by Emirates Airlines ) I prefer horses coming out of the Waldoboro, our prep run four weeks ago. Trappe Shot is absolutely the horse to beat, but Rule by Night may benefit greatly from his start there, as Steve Asmussen runners rarely run their best off layoffs, and is my choice to score the mild upset. Winter hero Calibrachoa does not look good enough to me, and I don’t like horses that miss multiple races, as he did ( the Carter and Churchill Downs Handicaps ), especially following strong improvement. As for the ( Visit Nassaucounty.com ) Woody Stephens, other than Derivative, I could make a case for any horse. Travelin Man’s best race beats these, and he very well may lead them on the proverbial merry chase, but his last race ( the Derby Trial ) was too bad to just dismiss, especially given the horse he dueled with him lost by only a neck. Justin Phillip may well have won the Jerome had it been 7F, and being second to the very promising Adios Charlie, especially at too long a distance for him, is no disgrace. Hopefully he can step up and run his best race here at a square price. I will let Arch Traveler beat me, which he may well do, but even given his last race was a good one, I am still not convinced he is good enough to justify his likely short price. I picked Justin Phillip-Travelin Man- Little Drama in the Woody.
Moving on to the turf portion of our stakes, Aviate is very much the horse to beat in the Foxwoods Just a Game. She looks very likely to add her name to the many Juddmonte runners that have won this race in the past, as her Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day was a definitive performance. Fantasia ran OK to be third behind her, and perhaps would have been closer if able to rally outside of horses, but she falls short too often for my taste, and seems at best to be a fringe player. Gypsy’s Warning, for Animal Kingdom’s connections, is the other horse I will use. She was likely to close to the early pace in the very tough Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, and got herself shuffled out of the race a bit on the turn. Her prior effort, winning Hollywood Park’s Matriarch last November makes her the second best horse in this race in my opinion. As for the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap, Gio Ponti is clearly the horse to beat after winning this race two years ago and just falling short to his stablemate Winchester in 2010. However, this is his first race back after going to Dubai just over two months ago, and at six years old may well have lost a step. But, he ran a winning race when 5th that day, after being forced to move wide, and prematurely, behind a very slow race. But, I won’t pick him on top at a short price, while using him strongly in any multi-race bets. Both Prince Will I Am and Al Khali were adversely affected by the slow pace in the Turf Classic on KY Derby Day, but Al Khali may also have faced some stretch traffic, and will be a much bigger price, which makes him my top selection. Not the likeliest winner….but good value overcomes that problem. Clearly if the Viscount Nelson that lost by just one length to Twice Over in last year’s Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park shows up, he will be more than a handful, but given that he raced just eight days ago, and his trainer Aidan O”Brien has had very limited success in North America ( 3 for 47 with an $0.80 ROI ) over the last five years, I will relegate him to the third slot. Even Straight Story, who will likely stalk Mission Approved, is not without a chance. Hopefully we can fund all these bets with the money we win on Mineswept in the 4th race.
Plenty of action on what shapes up as an extremely exciting Belmont Stakes and Belmont Stakes Day. Will one horse stamp himself as the top 3YO in America…or will we have a third winner of a 2011 Triple Crown race? In less than 30 hours we’ll have that answer. I know I can hardly wait.