Belmont fair odds: Tapit Trice is most likely; Hit Show is the play

Belmont fair odds: Tapit Trice is most likely; Hit Show is the play

Based on how I handicapped the Belmont Stakes, the wagering strategy is pretty straightforward. The only adjustments I anticipate being needed will come when we have a better idea of Tapit Trice's price.

He was my Kentucky Derby pick and I see him as the most likely winner of the Belmont, but just barely over stablemate Forte and Derby third-place finisher Angel of Empire. Together, that trio is 75 percent of the quartet of Grade 1 winners in the field. The other being Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure.

I agree with New York Racing Association morning-line maker David Aragona that Forte will be favored, with Angel of Empire and Tapit Trice the second and third choices in either order. National Treasure will be the fourth choice, and that leaves Hit Show as the fifth or sixth choice, depending on Arcangelo action, in a field of nine.

From an ordinal ranking system, this makes Hit Show an easy "A" for all multi-race wagering purposes. In other words, I think there is likely to be more value using him in the pick N pools than there is in the win pool. If Hit Show is 8-1 in the win pool, I think he'll play higher in the Pick Ns by virtue of being the fifth or fixth choice, and I'm willing to narrow on him whereas others using the fifth or sixth choice are likely to be deeper.

Another utility to being the fifth or sixth choice is that it's less about him winning and more about how he can be used vertically. I don't love either National Treasure or Arcangelo, who with Hit Show will round out the top six choices after the aforementioned trio of Forte, Tapit Trice and Angel of Empire.

I definitely like Tapit Trice most of those three, so I plan to play 2, 7 with 2, 7 with 2, 6, 7, 8 in various iterations (ditto for 2, 7 with 2, 6, 7, 8 exactas).

Why the Hit Show love? Well, he definitely needs to improve, but he's run well in every start in three. And I think it's important to remember he had a long layoff into the Wood Memorial (G2). A similar layoff stymied Instant Coffee in the Louisiana Derby (G2), but Hit Show ran well from post 13 and didn't embarrass himself in the Derby. A move forward is necessary, but I'll find out at higher than 8-1.

Why the Tapit Trice forgiveness? I think the reasoning is hidden in plain sight. Off those Derby fractions, he really didn't have an excuse. That's the setup be wanted. But. He was drawn inside an 18-horse field and took dirt early. Those were the two things people who didn't like him cited as their concerns. And they were right.

But those excuses aren't really in play anymore. This is a nine-horse field with ample room to get position. Pace is a mild concern, but Tapit Trice was just too good at Tampa Bay Downs and Keeneland to give up on him at 3-1, especially since his trainer and sire are both responsible for four wins in this race, with Tapwrit being the overlap.

My "A" is Hit Show given the price, and my "B" is Tapit Trice.

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