Measuring track bias ahead of Justify's run in the 2018 Belmont Stakes

June 09, 2018 12:42pm

Will Justify wire the field from the rail or can someone spoil his Triple Crown bid rallying late down the outside?

As everyone formulates their bets for the 2018 Belmont Stakes and other races on Saturday's card, one of the myriad of factors to contemplate is how the track is playing. Many a track bias has deterred and propelled trips to the winner’s circle.

If Friday is any indication, the track can be considered fair. Of the 11 races, seven were run on the grass. The course is firm, producing very quick times, but horses won on the lead, just off of it, laying mid-pack and coming from far behind. However, there was quite a distinction between sprints and routes.

Both turf sprints were won in wire-to-wire fashion.
Stonefactor wired a group of New York-bred maidens in 1:08.08 at 8/1, while favored Sandy’z Slew took a field of optional claimers coast to coast in 1:07.08.

Of the 15 horses that hit the board in the five turf routes, only five were in the Top 3 after a half mile of the race. And only one horse that lead after the first four furlongs hit the board.

The dirt also seems to play pretty fair.
Lewis Bay was forwardly placed when winning the Bed o’ Roses (G3), as a well as Imperial Hint in the True North Stakes (G2).

While those two winners stayed approximately four paths off the rail down the stretch,
Fixedincome Larry and Our Brainstrust rallied up the rail to win a Maiden Special Weight and the Tremont Stakes, respectively.

The Saturday opener was a turf route at a mile for New York-bred optional claimers, and Out of Trouble cut dawdling fractions of 48.42 & 1:11.63, but was still unable to hold off favored
La Moneda, who tracked in fourth along the inside, ran into traffic trouble on the turn and exploded in the lane to cover the mile in 1:34.17. War Canoe rallied from last to round out the trifecta. The turf appears to be fair once again today; one can go to the front and contend as long as the pace isn’t abundantly quick, but horses rallying are preferred.

In the second
, the Easy Goer Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, Prince Lucky stalked three-wide on the backstretch and fought gamely between horses the length of the stretch, while three paths off the rail to score the upset at 13-1. The third-place runner, Dark Vader, pressed the pace from the onset and fell a head short when in the two path down the lane. No one made up much ground in the stretch, but the also-rans were all spinning their wheels before turning for home. Based on the result, the dirt course appears to be playing fairly, giving Justify every opportunity to become America's 13th Triple Crown winner.   


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Meet Jasen Mangrum

My interest in the Sport of Kings goes back over 25 years with my father taking me with his friends to the old Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course in Omaha, Nebraska. From those early experiences I was able to read the Daily Racing Form before the age of 10. Once The Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1988, I became totally hooked on the sport studying racing charts after homework and tennis practice.  In recent years, with the explosion of handicapping tournaments, my love for playing the races has risen to a new level. Primarily focused on New York, Chicago and Louisiana racing, I have now been forced to study races far and wide in attempt to find “cap horses” in the tournaments I play.  I have also dabbled in horse ownership within syndicates and on my own.

My fondest memories in racing include Silver Charm’s 1997 Kentucky Derby victory.  Both my father and I selected him, which made for a memorable day.  The best race I’ve seen was Tiznow’s first Breeders Cup Classic win in 2000 when he outdueled Giant’s Causeway down the length of the Churchill Downs stretch. My biggest windfall as a gambler was a pool-scooping Pick 4 win, paying over $6,600 at The Woodlands in 2005.

The point of this blog is to get everyone out there a few winners, but also to go in depth at how I come to the conclusions that I do. I encourage others to post picks they like, too, but please explain how you come to your conclusions. That way everyone can learn a little more about this great game, and add another weapon to their handicapping arsenal. Best of luck.

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