Written by: Stackin’ Green Special Guest to: thederbypost.com
The third leg of the Triple Crown really feels like the only 1.5 mile dirt race left in the entire world. What’s that? We’re going to have 3 year olds run in it? And mostly after two grueling, hard fought races within the past 5 weeks? It sounds like great fun! Yes, the Belmont Stakes offers another possibility for greatness, or depending how you look at it, randomness.
A fair number of horses in the recent past have gone on to show their best in the last two legs of the Crown. The first that come to mind are Point Given and Afleet Alex, who for whatever reason just didn’t have it on Derby Day. The surprise success of Da’Tara and Birdstone, who upset the potential triple crown hopefuls Big Brown and Smarty Jones, always weighs on the mind of bettors when ‘capping this race, and can make one think twice about what they’ve seen in Louisville and Baltimore. A modern trend leading up to this race has been the “Skip the Preakness” method, which includes Empire Maker back when Funny Cide attempted to be great in 2003. It worked for him, as it also worked for Jazil in 2006 and Summer Bird in 2009. After the Bird, it made it 5 times in the previous 10 years. Is there something to the “freshness”? You could argue either way.
The field ready to run at Big Sandy this Saturday boasts, for the first time ever, the 1st 7 finishers in the Kentucky Derby. That in its own right is rather amazing. But who’s running well? Better yet, who will run well in Race 11 at Belmont Park on Saturday?
The late break for Animal Kingdom seemed to really cost him in the Preakness, as he just didn’t have enough to overcome Shackleford over the last 100 yards. What was amazing to me was my accurate prediction of the sizzling pace up top … that meant little to nothing ultimately to Shackleford, due to his indubitable grit and stamina. To count him out again is asking for it though. These two are the horses to the beat. They know it, their owners know it, and any other horse on top is exactly that — at your own risk.
Can anyone else get a taste? Well, Nehro is pulling the “freshness” tactic, but there are a few things I can’t get out of my mind with this horse. His last (and only) win was a Maiden Special this February. Since then, he’s excelled … at getting 2nd. I’m not sure he can get the distance, and there’s no reason to believe that he’s better than either Shackleford or Animal Kingdom. With odds around 4, I can’t play him to win.
The live longshot is Master of Hounds. Gomez rides, he has run in classy races and he should be able to get the distance. Perhaps he is still improving as many 3 year olds prove in this leg. Others with a shot to pick up a piece are Mucho Macho Man and Santiva, but the thought here is that they are going up against others who are clearly more accomplished, talented and/or fitter.
I still can’t get away from Animal Kingdom. He is training well, has looked great, and with the right break maybe he would have won the Preakness. That said, I will not underestimate Shackleford. There’s a reason he was right there in the Florida Derby, controlled the Derby until fading on a slower track for speedsters, and then came back to win with a great effort in the Preakness. He’s awful talented. Less likely to take it, but probably worth a 10-1 look, is Master of Hounds. Focus on these and good things should happen for you.
- Play Animal Kingdom big to WIN and PLACE
- Key Animal Kingdom in an exacta over Master of Hounds and Shackleford
- I’ll also throw you guys a nice trifecta: 9, 12 with 1, 9, 12 with 1, 6, 12
Leave some comments if you desire to inquire, or disagree and best of luck!
Written by: Stackin’ Green