Belmont Stakes Preview
With no Derby winner, no Preakness winner, and the last minute scratch of the likely favorite, Classic Empire, it might be a tough sell to get fans to tune into this year’s Belmont Stakes. But for a bettor, it’s a dream, as this field is now wide open and could provide for a huge payout on Saturday. Let’s take a look horse by horse at the field.
1-Twisted Tom 20-1:
He won the local prep here in Maryland, the Tesio, at Laurel back in April, but doesn’t appear to match up well with the best in here. However, the key in the Belmont Stakes is always the breeding, as none of these horses will likely ever have to run 1 1/2 again. He’s out of a Thunder Gulch mare, and Thunder Gulch won the Belmont in 1995.
Ran on nicely in the Derby to finish 6th, and should be able to get the distance. Todd Pletcher has won the Belmont before, and at 6-1 this horse cannot be overlooked. He won’t be my top choice to win, but he’ll be used in all of my exotics for sure.
Ran decent in the Derby, fading to 9th after being 4th at the 3/4 pole. It was an unusually weak crop of three year olds in Southern California this season, but he was the best of that bunch. John Shirreffs has worked his magic before in big races (Giacomo & Zenyatta), but I don’t see Gormley winning here. One advantage will be multiple Classic winning jockey Victor Espinoza aboard, and he’s been on Gormley in all 7 of his career starts.
4-J Boys Echo 15-1:
I liked him a little in the Derby, and he just didn’t run a lick after being bumped at the start. Now I used that same excuse after his poor performance in the Blue Grass Stakes. At this point, I’m not sure what to make of him. At his best, he’s capable of winning this race at 15-1. The pedigree suggests he can get the distance, out of Mineshaft and a Menifee mare means he won’t have a problem going 1 1/2. He’s worked really well since the Derby, and if he can stay out of traffic, he might be able to surprise.
5-Hollywood Handsome 30-1
This is the only horse I can’t see winning this race. He finished 4th and 5th in his only graded races. Decent efforts, but not the makings of a Belmont winner, at least not on paper.
6-Lookin At Lee 5-1
He’ll be the only horse in the field that will have run in all three Triple Crown races, so he deserves to be here. He did regress a little in the Preakness, but certainly didn’t run poorly, finishing 4th. One run closers usually don’t win the Belmont Stakes, but I expect him to be in the back and try to make his move down the stretch. Don’t see him winning either, but it wouldn’t be a huge upset.
7-Irish War Cry 7-2:
He’ll be the favorite on Saturday, and is a quality racehorse for sure. Won the Wood Memorial in April very impressively and seemed poised to take on Always Dreaming at the top of the stretch in the Derby, but faded badly to finish 10th. He’s done that before and bounced back in his next race, so we’ll see if it’s a pattern or not. Won’t have any issues with the distance, as he’s out of Curlin, one of the best horses of all time at any distance. I’ll use him somewhere.
8-Senior Investment 12-1
Ran great in the Preakness to finish 3rd, and definitely improving each time out. He might be another that will relish the distance, however, seems to be another one run type closer like Lookin At Lee, and as I mentioned, those types normally don’t win the Belmont. But value wise, if you like Lookin at Lee at 6-1, the you should absolutely like this guy at 12-1/
Lightly raced colt out of Shackleford will likely be on the lead on Saturday. We’ll see how long he can stay on top. Jockey Mike Smith is one of the best in the business at nursing that speed, so at 15-1, he might be worth a few $$$$. He’s been in the money in all four lifetime starts, but obviously this is his biggest test to date.
The Illinois Derby winner ran ok in the Preakness, finishing 6th. He’ll need to be better in here \, which is possible, though I think the distance could be an issue. i can’t honestly say I like him that much in here.
The Japanese invader is the “hot horse” this week, and people are giving him a big chance in here. I’m never sure what to make of the foreign horses, but the last few that come to mind in the Belmont do usually run well. Sunday Break and Lani both ran 3rd in recent Belmonts.
The “one eyed wonder” was a nice story Derby week but didn’t run well, but did have an excuse as he was bumped around quite a bit at the start. This horse, to me has the best breeding in the race. His Sire, Union Rags won the Belmont, and his Grand Sire on the dam side was the great AP Indy, who also won the Belmont. I said earlier that I always look at pedigree more than anything else when handicapping the Belmont Stakes, and at 12-1, I “have’ to play this horse on top.
I’m going to take a shot with a win and place bet on #12-Patch, with these small Exacta Boxes:
12-4 (J Boys Echo)
12-7 (Irish War Cry)
12-8 (Senior Investment)
and 12-9 (Meantime)
If I win, dinner’s on me. Good luck!