Belmont Stakes-The 147th running of Belmont stakes is carded as race 11 this Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY, approximate scheduled post time is 6:50 PM. The field consists of 8 entrants who are vying for the 3rd Jewel of the Triple Crown. The weather forecast has a chance of morning scattered showers with most cloudy but ideal temperatures.
Here we go again, another opportunity to break the drought of 36 years without a Triple Crown winner. In early wagering, American Pharoah is 1/5 in early betting so the public certainly likes his chances to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed did in in 1978.
What isn’t to like, he won his Derby Prep (Arkansas Derby) being geared down at the wire by open lengths, his Derby was solid as he stalked the pace wide the whole way and when asked to lay it down, laid it down. Finally, his Preakness turned into freakiness as he splashed his way to the wire without anyone else in sight.
California Chrome didn’t scare anyone away last year, but Pharoah only has garnished 7 rivals to stop him from immortality. He’s the lone speed in the race and even if one of the others decide to go, no reason why he can’t rate right off the lead, in simple terms he should be in the right spot if he’s good enough. Another big positive is rider Espinosa was aboard Chrome last year and also rode War Emblem in 2002, yes both of those two failed, but the experience gained will be very useful.
Ok, that’s the good, what about the possible chinks in Pharoah’s armor? The biggest one is this will be his 4th race in 8 weeks, in the 70’s or earlier, that wouldn’t be a worry, but with the frail breed that exists and the emphasis on speed, endurance isn’t part of the “new” thoroughbred racing game. Another major flaw is his breeding doesn’t suggest the longer he goes the better he will get, his bloodlines show shorter distances to be his forte, finally there is karma.
I hate to even mention this, but owner Ahmed Zayat has a troubled past and I just find it hard to believe the racing God’s will let him etch his name into the history books. Even recently, he was sued for failure to pay a gambling debt, the suit was thrown out a few days ago, but where there is smoke there is fire. He beat 5th Third Bank, he filed bankruptcy, and my guess is he likely didn’t honor some commitment to Howard Rubinsky.
For additional nostalgia, today is D-Day…..hmmmm, confused? Don’t be.
#5 American Pharoah– As much as I dislike the connections, it’s about the horse. I have been fortunate in my life to own a champion and have always felt it’s been a blessing to own him whether I am a sinner or a saint makes no difference. My T-bred buddy was a Dortmund lover and he simply told me this week, “you know how good Dortmund is, that likely means how great Pharoah is”. Trainer Baffert was actually crying in one of his last interviews before the big race saying, “He’s a special horse”, I’ll have mixed feelings even as they go in the gate, but I think he’ll get unsaddled in the winner’s circle.
#6 Frosted– Has done nothing wrong since the throat surgery he had in March, actually ran a very good race in The Derby and has had a chance to get his legs back under him over the past 5 week, another big plus is rider Rosario who can finish as good as anyone and that certainly will be needed in a marathon race, another huge angle is McLaughlin’s barn (based out of NY) has been on fire including 2 long shot winner’s on Friday, the logical villain, wouldn’t be a shocker.
#8 Materiality– Brings the highest career Beyer speed figure to the table and simply didn’t have enough experience to be a player in the Derby, licked his wounds and is back for another shot at the champ, many players will go in his direction due to connections, but the horses he has conquered on his resume are uninspiring. He would need to take a giant step forward to play spoiler, not of the question but likely to factor underneath.
#1 Mubtaahij- The true wild card in the race as it’s just hard to ship to the US, get acclimated and run in the biggest race of the year in a few weeks; stayed behind and rested up for another run at the American horses, not sure he’ll stick around after this run, but if he acclimated to the US, look out. Trainer de Kock is arguably as good as any trainer on Earth, snags a local pilot (Irad Ortiz) who won 3 on Friday, a puncher’s chance.
Betability: None, sometimes history is fun to observe not to partake, 1/5 (current odds) could be value or could be a major underlay; the other problem is the others offer not enough current value to merit taking a stand., the entire card is one of the best in New York racing history and here are some angles in other races I like:
Race 2- #2 Wisecracker
Race 3- #3 Competitive Edge
Race 6- #8 V.E. Day
Race 7- #9 Promise Me Silver
Race 9- #4 Tonalist
Race 10- #9 Magic Artist
Race 12- #11 Umgiyo
Race 13- #10 Social Inclusion
Good Luck to all.
Graded Analysis with fair value win odds
#5 American Pharoah- 2 to 5, only obstacle is 4 races in 8 weeks, great ones do great things.
#6 Frosted- 7 to 1, a very legit chance to hush the crowd, don’t think we have seen his best yet.
#8 Materiality- 10 to 1, likely way over bet, but the public could settle on him to be 2nd choice, for Pletcher fans.
#1 Mubtaahij- 12 to 1, rider as good as anyone on this oval, trainer is as good as anyone in world, don’t ignore.
#7 Keen Ice- 25 to 1, stone closers don’t usually win this, but no reason Romans can’t get him to run on for slice.
#3 Madefromlucky – 25 to 1, Peter Pan winners usually burn money in this spot, although Tonalist proved that wrong last year, the trend reverts.
#2 Tale of Verve- 30 to 1, loses rider but picks up HOF Stevens, will be over bet off his opportunistic 2nd in Preakness, lightening not striking twice.
#4 Frammento- 100-1, adds money Mike Smith, not sure Allah or Jesus could make a difference, simply not fast enough.
-Professional handicapper at www.equineinvestor.com