Here we go everyone! The third and final leg of this year’s Triple Crown races is setting up to be one of the better Belmont’s in recent memory. Many
of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness runners return as these three year olds
battle it out one more time; this time at a daunting 12 furlongs! Will Orb
return to his Derby glory? Can Oxbow win on or near the lead again? Or will
someone new have their nose first on the wire? Let’s take a look at this year’s
#5 – Orb (1st Kentucky Derby, 4th
Orb certainly had an impressive run as of late winning his 5th
in a row in the Kentucky Derby before getting stuck on the rail and being
unable to catch rival Oxbow in the Preakness. Orb certainly likes to position
himself wide on the far turn and have a clear shot at the finish line down the
lane. He looked uncomfortable in the Preakness and just didn’t have his best
that day. Still, he is a very good horse and should be considered in the
Belmont. The apparent lack of pace in this race shouldn’t scare off Orb fans as
he has closed in and won on some slower paces in races past. He should be able
to relax and sit back comfortably until jockey Joel Rosario asks him to go.
The last Derby Winner to also win the Belmont was Thunder
Gulch in 1995 and before that was Swale in 1984.
Oxbow surprised many as the 15-1 winner took down the
Preakness almost three weeks ago. He won that race on the lead which he was
capable of doing (he won on the lead in his maiden win, the Risen Star, and the
LeComte stakes) however as of late that was not his running style. In the
Kentucky Derby he rated closer to the lead but just didn’t have the punch down
the lane. Was that because it was muddy? That remains to be seen, but
regardless he was impressive in the Preakness. Gary Stevens will have plenty of
options with Oxbow; rating him close to the lead or letting him relax mid-pack.
This horse seems to be peaking at the right time.
The last horse to lose the Derby, but win the Preakness and the Belmont, was Afleet Alex in 2005.
Being a huge Beatles fan, I can think of nine reasons to bet
on this horse (see: Revolution No. 9). Other than that, Revolutionary really impressed
me in the Kentucky Derby coming all the way back from 18th place to
get up for 3rd on the very muddy track. This horse now makes his
third start off the layoff for WinStar Farm and he should relish the extra
distance. We’ll see if he can fight through traffic to make a difference at the
end. Note that jockey Javier Castellano returns to the irons for trainer Todd
Here’s a horse that most definitely outran his odds in the
Kentucky Derby; finishing second at a whopping 34-1! Bred for the distance, I’m
thinking that Golden Soul will love the long ride around the “big sandy.” Still,
this horse has only won one race and though I’m really looking close at the
distance angle, he will need to run another big race to take home the Belmont. Trainer
Dallas Stewart retains jockey Robby Albarado in the saddle, so that’s a good sign.
Worth A Look:
Who knows what would have happened if this horse had a clean
start in the Wood Memorial. I can recall the starter falling out of the gate
while still practically holding onto this horse (he was named a non-starter). After
an absolutely dominating performance in a sloppy Peter Pan (won by over 13
lengths) this horse seems to be in a good spot to give the Belmont a go. Likely
to be one of the only few to flash any speed, can this horse win wire to wire? He
set some mighty fast fractions in the Peter Pan and will need to slow it down a
bit to take this one. We only have to go back to 2008 to find the last wire to
wire Belmont winner in Da’Tara.
It was pretty evident that this horse didn’t care for the
mud. And if the weather forecast comes true, the track should be pretty wet for
Saturday afternoon (expecting 1-2 inches Friday night as of this writing). However
if we were to draw a line through the muddy Derby, Overanalyze might be worth a
look here in the Belmont. Another son of Dixie Union won this very race last
Here’s another horse that didn’t seem to like the mud very
much either, finishing a disappointing 18th in the Kentucky Derby. Still,
drawing a line through that race, this horse has won four out of five of those
other races and seems to like to run in New York. Perhaps this distance is too
much for him?
Rosie Napravnik gets the mount on the only filly in the race
becoming the first woman to ride in each of the three triple crown races in one
season. This four-time winner takes a step up to run against the boys after a
third place finish in the Kentucky Oaks back on May 3rd. I’m
wondering if the Oaks distance was a bit too much for her, but you can
understand why Todd Pletcher and Mike Repole want to give this a shot.
#1 – Frac Daddy – Has only won one race, and that was last
#4 – Giant Finish – Outmatched here
#6 – Incognito – Miler going long, can he get the distance?
#8 – Midnight Taboo – Has a lot to prove here
#10 – Will Take Charge – Not the same horse
#12 – Palace Malice – Too slow for this field
Well there you have it, my “dark” analysis of this year’s
Belmont! Who do you like?