Friday, June 8, 2007

Tomorrow's Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes consists of only a 7-horse field, but it's proving a little difficult to handicap. I do think Curlin (pictured) will be hard to beat since Street Sense is not running. But with the Belmont, there's always the question of who can go the distance: it's a long race at 1 and a half miles. So you want to look for horses who are bred for distance and can close.

Hard Spun is entered, but he is an early speed racer. In the Preakness his jockey set him right off the pace but let him go too early and he tanked (still he hung on for third). Consequently, a new jockey will be aboard, Garrett Gomez, who is a master at riding a closer. Hard Spun also has a good Tomlinson rating for distance. Thus you can't really count Hard Spun out.

Another horse that you can't count out is the filly Rags to Riches. She won the Kentucky Oaks this year (which is the filly version of the Kentucky Derby). She's also one of Todd Pletcher's horses, and I find it interesting that he's putting her in instead of Circular Quay or one of the others. The thing that's scary about her is her lineage: she's totally bred for distance, and because she's a filly running against all colts, she gets a 5-lb weight break. That could make all the difference when we're talking about going a mile and a half.

Tiago is another one you can't discount. He's Giacomo's brother and has the same connections as that horse, closed well in the Kentucky Derby, won the Santa Anita Derby and is your typical closer.

C P West is on the improve for trainer Nick Zito and finished 4th in the Preakness. Edgar Prado is his jockey, and Prado is notorious for winning the Belmont on longshot horses.

In short, the only two horses I don't have much faith in are Slew's Tizzy (in over his head; his speed figures are too slow) and I'mawildandcrazyguy, who did fine in the Derby, but the pace scenario here will be completely different.

So phooey. Again I find myself wanting to make a chalky bet: Curlin with Rags to Riches exacta box, and Curlin-Rags to Riches-Hard Spun trifecta box. Or maybe I'll just bet Rags to Riches across the board and root for the girl. She's a beautiful horse, big for a filly:

Otherwise, since I think the favorites will prevail, I might do a Pick 3 or double with this race as one of the legs and look for a little more value in the other legs.

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