Overanalyze 12-1 (Dixie Union-Unacloud, by Unaccounted For) Todd Pletcher – My dark horse deluxe, Overanalyze is a horse I believe is ready to fire a big shot in the 2013 Belmont Stakes. An easy winner of the Arkansas Derby, the son of Dixie Union also has a smart score in the Futurity Stakes, in his only previous race at Belmont Park, to his credit. Shuffled back a few times in the Derby, I appreciate the way he kept running late, and the good news is I expect him to be much closer early in the Belmont. Back home in New York, with a running style perfect for the 12 furlongs and breeding that suggests he should handle the distance, I expect this one to run a much improved race from his middle of the pack finish in Kentucky. And at double digit odds, I look forward to taking a shot that the improvement will be enough to see him in the winner's circle.
Orb 5-2 (Malibu Moon-Lady Liberty, by Unbridled) Shug McGaughey – So he didn't win the Triple Crown, life goes on for the horse that still remains as the one on top of his division. Looking to become the first horse since Thunder Gulch back in 1995 to win the Kentucky Derby-Belmont Stakes combo, there is plenty of reason to expect a bounce back for the son of Malibu Moon. For whatever reason, he did not run his best at Pimlico. My belief, is that his distaste for being inside horses, the entire way around, had a lot to do with the disappointment. As bad as he ran, Orb did finish with solid interest to get fourth. At Belmont, his home track, he should get the chance to uncoil his powerful stride, and I fully expect Rosario to keep him outside of horses this time around. Judging from his victories of before, neither the distance, nor a probable need to strike on the turn, should be too much for him to handle. He remains the horse to beat.
Incognito 40-1 (A.P. Indy-Octave, by Unbridled's Song) Kiaran McLaughlin – So if Overanalyze is my dark horse deluxe, what should I call this super bomb? Okay, super bomb it is. There aren't many trainers I'd rather have prepare my horse for a marathon of sorts than the 2006 Belmont Stakes winning trainer, Kiaran McLuaghlin, and with Incognito, I believe he has a horse ready to shock the world. Regally bred to say the least, the son of A.P. Indy and Octave was on a steady improvement scale, including a troubled victory in his second to last. Unfortunately that string of ever better races was put to a halt last time in the Peter Pan. Looking anything but like a duck to water, Incognito spun his wheels on the sloppy surface, to the point of being last entering the stretch. Once he finally did find his footing, he ran on well to be a jump or two from grabbing third. The distance beaten by the freaking Freedom Child only will effectively drive up his odds, while the 1 1/2 miles on a fast track could well make all the difference in the world.
Revolutionary 7-2 (War Pass-Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy) Todd Pletcher – I have a feeling that many won't just walk to the windows, but rather run there to get some money down on this one winning the Belmont. So, in other words, I expect that he will be an underlay come a week from Saturday. As for his chances of winning, he is probably the second most logical horse in the race. He ran a solid Derby, and has been pointing to this one since. Also, his win in the Louisiana Derby was validated by a number of good performances by the horses he beat that day, including Mylute, who ran an excellent Preakness. If he is to win the the final leg of the Triple Crown, he will probably need to run a similar race as WinStar's Belmont winner from 2010, Drosselmeyer did, because if he drops way back early, I think it will just take too much for him to win.
Oxbow 8-1 (Awesome Again-Tizamazing, by Cee's Tizzy) D. Wayne Lukas – The Rodney Dangerfield of the 2013 three-year-old crop, Oxbow gets no respect. The credit for a smashing win in the Preakness seems to be equally split between Gary Stevens and a lack of anyone else in the field pressuring him early. After celebrating his storied farm and his legendary trainer, there was little love left for the horse himself. Don't be surprised if he is totally ignored at the windows once again in the Belmont. While it is true that the Preakness was a dream trip, it is also true that this a quality speed horse who can run all day. The addition of Freedom Child and Palace Malice, will likely make his task tougher, but I, for one, will not be the least bit surprised to see this one leading the field into the Belmont Park stretch.
Golden Soul 8-1 (Perfect Soul-Hollywood Gold, by Mr. Prospector) Dallas Stewart – A long shot no more, Golden Soul tipped the world off to his steady improvement with a solid rally to get second in the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, for those who want to play him again, the Belmont Stakes has a long history of seeing horses that finished strongly in the Derby get pounded at the windows more than expected. More than expected, and then more than they have lived up to in the Test of Champions. Having said, astute handicappers noticed his consistent late run going into Louisville, and were rewarded with his fine performance at odds of 34-1. He still might have some improvement within, and if he gets a decent pace to run at, he could well get into the picture once again.
Freedom Child 10-1 (Malibu Moon-Bandstand, by Deputy Minister) Thomas Albertrani – Have you seen the Peter Pan? Freedom Child scurried away from the field like a scared chicken would do from the Colonel. It was a magnificent answer to the terrible luck he was dealt in the Wood Memorial. Was it slop aided? Yes. Was it track bias aided? Yes. Was it still a superior performance? Absolutely. Making it all the more interesting is the fact that it happened at Belmont Park. While unlikely that the track will come up similar for the Belmont, there is reason to believe that he at least likes the place. He clearly is a horse on the rise, and I'm not sure that either the Preakness winner, nor Palace Malice want to test his early speed at this distance. Can he beat top horses at 12 furlongs? It certainly is not out of the question.
Unlimited Budget 15-1 (Street Sense-Unlimited Pleasure, by Valid Appeal) Todd Pletcher – Boy, there's a lot to like here ... or should I say girl? The lone filly in this year's Belmont is one of the more interesting horses in the field. She has good tactical speed, and the ability to punch it on the turn, both which could suit her well on June 8. As a daughter of Street Sense, the distance could well be within her scope, and with Valid Appeal as the broodmare sire, she should move up on a wet track. There's nothing wrong with her Kentucky Oaks performance, and if you believe, like I do, that the fillies may be the stronger gender of this foal crop, you have to give her a fighting chance in here. It would be somewhat ironic if Todd Pletcher gained his third Triple Crown victory with another filly in the Belmont, but certainly stranger things have happened.
Will Take Charge 20-1 (Unbridled's Song-Take Charge Lady, by Dehere) D. Wayne Lukas – Everyone saw his trouble on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, and because of it, he became a popular dark horse selection in the Preakness. That hope did not pan out at all in the Middle Jewel, as he ran a dull race. Because he is trained by D. Wayne, he gets another shot in the final leg, where I believe he will be hard pressed to do better than his 8th and 7th place finishes in Louisville and Baltimore. He looks like a horse better suited for grade 3's and at 1 1/16th miles rather than a potential Belmont Stakes winner. (Yes, I believe he would have flattened out even with a perfect Derby trip.)
Palace Malice 8-1 (Curlin-Palace Rumor, by Royal Anthem) Todd Pletcher - You talkin' to me? Yup, this will be the 2013 Wise Guy horse. Palace Malice does just enough in his races, looks good enough in person, and holds the promise of a young Hall of Fame-to-be sire, for everyone to hold out hope that he will someday win the big one. I'm not ready to say it won't happen, but I am not as hopeful as many. Sure he had trouble in Louisiana, and Keeneland's Polytrack wasn't his thing, and yes, he ran way too fast early in the Derby, but at what point do we say this colt is just not one of the very best? After a grand looking workout over the holiday, I've already seen the bandwagon forming for another Palace Malice expedition. Pardon me for watching this ride from a few cars over.
Code West 15-1 (Lemon Drop Kid-Charitabledonation, by Saint Ballado) Bob Baffert – Lemon Drop Kid and Saint Ballado pedigree at a mile-and-a-half ... yes please! Yeah, yeah, I know, pedigree doesn't win races, horses do, but you gotta admit, this horse should have no problem getting the grueling distance of the Belmont. The question then becomes ... is he good enough? Unfortunately, my best answer right now, is maybe. I mean he has demonstrated promise in just about every one of his nine lifetime races. On the other hand, he has only won two of those, and the wins came against clearly lesser. I suppose the answer to the good enough question lies within how good this crop really is. If Orb and the other Derby and Preakness runners are truly good horses, Code West will likely be outclassed, however; if this crop is nothing but mediocre, a horse with moderate credentials, but in good form, and capable of handling the distance, certainly could pull off a Belmont Stakes upset.
*** Code West Will Not Run ***
Giant Finish 30-1 (Frost Giant-Apocalyptic, by Hickman Creek) Anthony Dutrow – All things considered, this New York-bred did not run so poorly in the Kentucky Derby, as he actually passed a few horses down the lane to finish ahead of half the field. Truth be told, he has run plenty of good races, and has shown an ability to keep trying to the wire. With this said, I would suspect he will have a nice career of cashing checks. Now comes the bad news ... that nice career of cashing checks has been put on hold by a owner who insists on running his horse in races above his head. Much like the Derby, he has little to no chance to win the Belmont, and for everyone involved's sake, I look forward to seeing him in a nice, six digit NY-bred stakes races sooner than later.
Always In a Tiz 40-1 (Tiznow-Calendar Girl, by Elusive Quality) Dominick Shettino – The late edition of this one to the Belmont field was a bit of a surprise, but of course this sort of thing happens every year. After a promising 1st, 2nd, and 3rd to begin his career, the son of Tiznow seemed to want no part of graded stakes competition with a 5th in the Southwest Stakes, followed by a 9th place finish in the Wood Memorial. He was beaten by more than a 15-length average in those lone graded stakes attempts, and I see little to expect anything better than that in the Belmont. He has never raced at Big Sandy before, and his recent works over the surface have been no great shakes. Perhaps the best thing that can be said for this one, is that as a son of Tiznow, he may be able to run all day.
*** Always In a Tiz Will Not Run ***