First off, I want to start off by congratulating the
connections of Palace Malice. They did not give up on him, even after
his debacle in the Derby, a race that made many jump off this talented colt’s
bandwagon. Their patience was rewarded when he returned in the toughest
race of them all, and prevailed. He proved his doubters wrong and those who
supported him, right.
Now to get down to the overall Belmont analysis. Overall, I
think this race proved just how durable and how talented this crop is. The top
three finishers have a combined 19 starts between them. Oxbow with seven, Palace
Malice and Orb with six. For horses to race this much this early in the season,
during this era, is rarely seen. Last year’s Derby winner I'll Have Another, had only two starts
before the Derby, Bodemeister, three. Both only had a total of four lifetime
races before they ran in the race. They were brilliant, no doubt, but after
the Preakness they never ran again. Orb, Oxbow, and Palace Malice are hardened
horses by today’s standards, and you can better believe they will be around for
the rest of the year, solely because they have the foundation that others lack.
The time of the Belmont may have been slow, but do not let
that fool you about what an incredible race the top three ran. The first six
furlongs of the 2013 Belmont Stakes were the fastest we have seen in at least
13 years. Your typical first six furlongs are run from a high 1:12 to a low
1:13, these horses ran 1:10.95. Unless you are Secretariat, there is absolutely
no way you can run that fast and possibly have anything left for the final
quarter. Just ask Sham, or any of the other horses that tried to run with
Secretariat. The nearest horse to him was 31 lengths behind, meaning they ran
approximately 2:30 and 1/5.
The early pace literally sapped the field of all of their energy,
just like it did in 1973, when the only horse left standing was a physical
freak of nature. Every other horse behind him, while good, was not physically
capable of continuing. Had the 2013 field had a normal pace, I have no doubt
they would have come home in well under 2:30 and change. However, they didn’t
have a normal pace, and the time is what it is.
My overall conclusions are that the top three ran
exceptional races. For Palace Malice and Oxbow to be in the thick of it, when the pace
was as hot as it was, and still be running at the end does indeed give credence
to their stamina. Orb, who was the only closer to make up any kind of ground
and get anywhere close to the top two also, must be given credit. He did show
up with his race, he did make a menacing move. However, it was too soon, and not
over a track, or in a race that favors deep closers. He simply had too much
ground to make up. After running longer than he had ever run prior, his
normally potent kick was not enough. But again, for him to close as much of the
gap as he did merits a great deal of respect.
All in all, I think this Belmont showed us the top horses in
the crop. I think they all showed us their toughness, their stamina, and their
talent. The Belmont time is deceiving. As I said, the top three all had
foundation, all had the breeding, but when confronted a pace that hasn’t been
seen in more than a decade, they simply were left empty. It was not breeding or
a lack of foundation, but the pace that resulted in the time. Do not let that
fool you. The top three of this race will come back to be the talk of the
summer, mark my words.