The final round- The Belmont Stakes

Greetings everyone! Sorry I haven’t checked in for awhile, but I’ve been in the Bahamas! I’m still here and actually will be in the air on the way back to Chicago when the Belmont Stakes is run Saturday. And as upset as I still am that Street Sense couldn’t hang on to win the Preakness, the thought of potentially missing the only Triple Crown winner of my lifetime isn’t something that I can stomach. So maybe Curlin’s win in the Preakness was for the best.

I don’t have a ton of time, but here are my quick thoughts on the Belmont, a race that became considerably more interesting with the addition of the superfilly Rags to Riches, who is undefeated in four starts this year, including the prestigious Kentucky Oaks. Since the race is a grueling 12 furlongs, I won’t bother with breaking down the pace scenario, as the winner is likely to be the horse that is most able to hold on for the last half mile regardless of whether he is closing or setting the pace. It’s pretty much a free for all.

In this race, I tend to lean toward horses with proven stamina. In the past, I’ve picked winners that knocked off Triple Crown contenders, including Touch Gold, Victory Gallop and Empire Maker. I’m going to use the same strategy this year, and I feel that there is one horse in this race who is improving marvelously and is being overlooked by the morning line odds,

PP #1: Imawildandcrazyguy, 20-1 Morning Line

This doesn’t look like a terrible play at 20-1. This horse is a plodder who just seems to keep going at a steady pace. He enhanced the Derby superfecta when he closed gamely to finish a surprising fourth. That may have been a fluke, but a repeat of that effort could easily put him on the board.

PP#2: Tiago, 10-1 Morning Line

This horse ran one of the most impressive (and forgotten) races in the Kentucky Derby, closing hard to finish seventh. He’s been training well and has a lot of rest under him, and it appears that he will benefit from the extra distance here. I like him as a trendy pick.

PP #3: Curlin, 6-5 Morning Line Favorite

There isn’t much not to like about this powerhouse animal, who has overcome all the odds and been a monster in both of the previous Triple Crown races. He’s clearly the class of the field. I suppose if there’s anything to worry about, you can point to the extra distance and wonder about whether or not he is finally due to bounce after such a tough spring campaign.

PP #4 CP West, 12-1 Morning Line

Nick Zito is making a late Triple Crown run with this guy, who ran very well to finish fourth in the Preakness. He clearly moved up in that race to finish ahead of some quality horses, and how he’ll handle the extra distance here is anyone’s guess. I think there are better horses here, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a big race- Zito shocked everyone in this race with Birdstone three years ago, but I’m not sure he can do it again with this colt.

PP #5: Slew’s Tizzy, 20-1 Morning Line

A lot of people love this horse’s potential, and I loved his daddy Tiznow, but he looks in over his head here. I’m not really sure why his connections chose to skip the other two races and run him here; he’s never run past 8.5 furlongs and nothing about him suggests that he will be able to excel at the longer distance. He’s the enigma of the race. Anything can happen, but I will be passing.

PP #6: Hard Spun, 5-2

I still think that this horse missed his best shot to win a Triple Crown race when he finished second in the Derby. This is a solid, hardcore 9 furlong horse, but anything past that is a serious question mark. He reminds me of Lion Heart, except better. Nevertheless, I have to think that he’s going to be gassed after 10 furlongs and may well finish up the track. If you’re looking to leave a favorite out of your exactas, I think he’s the one, especially at these odds.

PP #7: Rags to Riches, 3-1 Morning Line

Her addition to this race was the buzz of the race. She’s extremely talented, but I would have rather seen her in the previous two races than in this one. No filly has won this race since 1905, and only 10 have tried since. They all failed to win. Again, in this race I lean toward horses that have proven to have stamina. This filly could be brilliant, but I don’t have enough of a feel to pick her to win it against some tough males.

PICKS:

  1. TIAGO
  2. CURLIN
  3. IMAWILDANDCRAZYGUY
  4. CP WEST
  5. HARD SPUN
  6. RAGS TO RICHES
  7. SLEW’S TIZZY
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