06/06/2015 11:35 PM
2015 Belmont Stakes
Well we nailed the Kentucky Derby with the exotics and WIN bet, we hit the winner on the Preakness (big stretch there) but failed on the exotics. I didn’t really put too much time and effort in the other horses, I really thought it was going to be the same as the Derby as did many others. Playing Monday morning quarterback it was an easy exacta to hit; American Pharoah over ALL.
With only 8 horses it was the bet to make hoping you get a bomb; and a bomb came in. I didn’t even think about that wager which was dumb.
Here we go with the Belmont. Not going to get into the size of the track and the huge grounds, just straight horse racing analysis…
AMERICAN PHAROAH - what is there to say that we have not already seen or read? Horse is a freak. He was the best 2 year old horse last summer and is proving that theory again this year. He is ready to go and I think he wins the race, especially if we get moisture in the track again and the hot humid days of June can bring thunder storms during the day of, or leading up to the race. The Preakness did not take much out of the horse. He coasted under a hand ride most of the trip, it was an extended work out for American Pharoah. He will not be tired for this race and I really think the Kentucky Derby made this horse better. These horses are still 3 year olds and still growing. The fact he had to run and run hard in the Derby helped this horse fill out and mature, which is scary if you think about it. Baffert said it way back in Naovember; ‘This is the best horse I have ever worked with.” If I had to pick something that may be a problem for him, it will be a 95-99 degree day with humidity. He has not seen that type of weather ever. Also, he may not like the track. Find it odd he did not train over the surface at all. It is a sand based track, not a deep track like Saratoga, but it is not Santa Anita or Churchill Downs.
MATERIALITY - If there is a horse that has a chance to run with AP it is this horse. He is still very under raced and I also think the Derby did him wonders. He is a front running horse who has had one of the best buyers (105) leading up to the Derby. I said he was too under raced to win the Derby. He had a horrible post position, and he threw a shoe at the start of the race, but running in traffic and getting bumped around was a good experience for him. He did come running late when clear to be 6th, but he was too far out of it. He comes in off of rest since he skipped the Preakness and if you call the Derby a bounce race and he improves off the 105 buyer he could be VERY dangerous. The only thing for me would be the distance, 1 ½ miles is a test of champions and a horse that has only run 5 races may not be ready to finish the entire race.
FROSTED - Another Derby horse who did his best running very late. He is known as a closer, but I see him as a stalker who can run for days and that bodes well in this race and distance. He was never more than 5 lengths off the lead in the Wood Memorial and he came running late with slow early fractions of 24.50, 49.30. with the mile in 1:37.4. The race will have to set up to be moderate fractions in order for him to catch the leaders. AMERICAN PHAROAH has potential to run opening fractions of .22 and .45 with a mile in 1:35. Frosted is going to take some money at the windows and I can see him coming in the exotics with the kick he has, but he will not be alone in the end when he comes running. Fast fractions will hurt his chances to catch the leaders. The only knock on him is consistency. You get a great race out of him and then you get a race where he does not seem to want to win. Who shows up at this race?
TALE OF VERVE - Second place finisher in the Preakness. Came in off a maiden race to face graded stakes winners and he came flying at the end to get second. He has 7 races under his belt and has been in the money several times before finally breaking his maiden. Impressive on paper to go from maiden to graded company and come in 2nd. The trainer has a history of bringing in bombs, he has had 2 long shots come in second in the Derby. Could have been 3 with this horse being on the also eligible list for the Derby this year, but didn’t get in. Here is the question; was it the slop that helped him or is this horse really coming into his own? The closing kick is VERY impressive. He was dead last and was let loose just a bit, to catch up using the rail to his advantage at the far turn, then he really came running 8 wide and was pushed out 10 wide in the stretch, had to duck back inside of Divining Rod who cut him off in deep stretch and he had enough to get 2nd. At a 1 ½ miles, if he can show that same kick on a dry track he could be an exotic horse. I do not think any fractions will matter for him, he will come closing no matter what. Have to use in exotics. Gary Stevens gets the mount and that is dangerous. Interesting though, Rosario hops off to ride Frosted. Only worry is, did the last race take too much out of him. He ran hard to finish the race. His last 3 races have been 2nd, 1st and 2nd, with only this last race having 3 weeks off in between, prior to that he had 6 weeks off between races.
KEEN ICE - Another deep closer who just has not shown the ability to keep up with the others in this race. Dale Romans is always dangerous with his horses, but I think he is reaching with this horse just hoping he will show signs of brilliance. Other than his maiden win he has not really shown much, a few third place finishes and a 7th in the Derby. You can never count out a closer in the Belmont Stakes with the added distance and the long sweeping turns, but I would be taken back if he finishes in the top 4. The other closers to me show more.
MUBTAAHIJ – This horse ran in the Derby and took the Preakness off. He showed tremendous amount of closing kick overseas and is bred to run all day long. He has had time to acclimate into a new workout program which was not the case before the Derby. He also has had time to get used to his diet and surroundings. The question for me is; how good were the horses he ran against overseas compared to this group. I took a chance in the Derby with him in exotics because he was the unknown horse and you had to use him. He is still the unknown horse and I do not think he wins it, but I may use him in deep exotics again. Odd thing though, his jockey decided to go back overseas and ride another horse this day, you give up your mount of a Triple Crown race to race another horse. Not a great sign of confidence. Irad Ortiz gets the mount and he knows the track well.
FRAMENTO – Trained by Nick Zito who is always dangerous on big races, but this is a reach here. He has been well beaten by the second tier horses in this race on several occasions. I do not see how he will compete with the upper tier horse of AP, MATERIALITY and CARP DIEM (who was scratched Monday morning). AP has his 1 mile time beat by almost 3 seconds on more than two occasions. That to me is just too much to make up in a any race. Carp Diem beat him easily in the Blue Grass Stakes. Cannot see this horse doing much of anything.
MADEFROMLUCKY - One of three (now two) Pletcher entries in the race. Will be an interesting horse with the fact he was the winner of the Peter Pan Stakes (as was last year’s Belmont winner TONALIST) which is on the same track as the Belmont Stakes. The Peter Pan did not have the “best” competition, but it did have CONQUEST CURLINATE who was taken off this race. I am bummed, I heard that was the wise guy horse on the back track. MADEFROMLUCKY’s ¾ mile time was 1 second faster than American Pharoahs Derby and Preakness races (1:10 in Peter Pan to 1:11 Derby and 1:11 in slop at Preakness) but in the Arkansas Derby on a fast track AP was a 10 length winner leaving MADEFROMLUCKY in the dust. I think that race was more of a bounce race for him coming in off of 2 wins and a place in the slop (Rebel Stakes). In the Rebel Stakes on a sloppy track he was second to AMERICAN PHAROAH, but in the last few furlongs in the stretch this horse really found his stride and pulled away from the rest of the field. AMERICAN PHAROAH was just the better horse. This horse is rested now and AP is going on the 3rd race in 5 weeks. It is an interesting horse.
There are once again only 8 horses in the field. 9 of the past 10 winners of the Belmont Stakes did not run in the Preakness Stakes. Wager wise, we have the same challenge we did in the Preakness; do we try to beat AP or do we hammer AP on top. You are only going to get 3/5 maybe. Maybe 4/5, but even so, do you risk that on something that has not happened since 1978?
I personally think AMERICAN PHAROAH wins the race. He has the best running stride of all the horses, effortless glide. He can rate or go out front and say catch me if you can. Not going to bet him to win at 3/5.
Only two horses in this field can keep up with him if he decides to run and gun; MATERIALITY and MADEFROMLUCKY. MATERIALITY is dangerous, but can he get the last 1/4 mile? MADEFROMLUCKY can get the last 1/4 mile. The way he straightened out in the in the Rebel Stakes in the slop and in the stretch is something to look at and I think he will be a huge overlay in this race. He has a race on this surface which he obviously likes and is well well rested. I am taking the Arkansas Derby as a bounce race. TALE OF VERVE is a big horse who will use the long sweeping turns to his advantage with his long strides. He will come running and running late, interesting to see just how far back Stevens takes him until he lets him go. He likes the track based on his work outs. Top speeds 2 work outs in a row. FROSTED will take tons of money this day. He is the logical horse to beat him, but he need slow fractions. I do not think he will catch them with fast fractions. Just my opinion.
taking $150 and doing the following; One wager I really like is this.
$10 Triple AMERICAN PHAROAH over ALL over FROSTED. - $60
[B]$10 Exacta AMERICAN PHAROAH over ALL - $70 (hope TALE OF VERVE or MADEFROMLUCKY get 2nd)[/B]
Hedge a little
$5 MADEFROMLUCKY over AMERICAN PHARAOH, TALEOF VERVE, FROSTED, MUBTAAHIJ - $20
I really like MATERIALITY to start fading in the long Belmont Stretch and others pass a tiring horse. I think he will be out front to start and maybe with a few more races under him he has a chance to hold on, but 1 1/2 is a true test of stamina. Usually only 4 year olds and up run these races, rarely see them in the USA. It is one reason why the Triple Crown is so hard to accomplish.
These are my picks. Good luck if you choose to follow.
UNDER CARD - OTHER RACES
MY LOCK OF THE DAY - COMPETITIVE EDGE is going to be a horse I am going to hammer all day. This horse is the horse that I think can beat AMERICAN PHAROAH if they ever meet. He has tremendous speed and is primed to race. He has taken the same route as AP the past year. Two great races, got hurt and was taken off the Breeders Cup race, comes back and runs two lights out races. He is now sitting on the 3rd race of the form cycle and is ready to pounce. COMPETITIVE EDGE has won 4 races buy a combined 27 lengths. This horse is a beast and I hope I can get some odds on him.
TONALIST is running on the under card as well, I believe it’s the Met Mile. I think he wins the race. He is a horse for the course having NEVER lost on the Belmont Track going 4 for 4. He comes in off a solid race that was off the lay off. There were only 4 horses in that race, but he ran impressively coming from 8-10 lengths back and finishing the mile is 1:34.7 with race fractions of 23:08, 45:91. If that was the first race off 6 month lay-off the next race should be even better.