Nestled between Games 5 and 6 of the Cup finals, the Belmont Stakes will be running for the 143rd time on June 11.  Nicknamed “The Test of a Champion”, it’s one of the few dirt races still contested at 1.5 miles (2.4 KM).  Despite the decline in thoroughbred stamina over the years, it’s not likely to be shortened.  The winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Animal Kingdom and Shackleford, are both likely to be entered in the big race.  Mucho Macho Man, who has a knack of finding trouble in these big races, will also start.  According to his trainer, he lost his right shoe in the Preakness, which could have been a factor in his poor showing.

All three horses will have a 3 week layoff to prep for the Belmont.  That’s a tall order for the modern thoroughbred, with many horses being lightly raced and not accustomed to running 3 demanding races in the span of 5 weeks.  Right now, Master of Hounds stands out among this field.  He mounted a late charge in the Kentucky Derby to come a respectable 5th, and proved he can handle dirt racing and heavy traffic.  At the time of the Derby, his only knock was that he had one prep race in 2011.  Well, now he’s got two under the proverbial belt.

Past performances for probable runners

Belmont Stakes contenders
Horse Trainer Last start
Animal Kingdom Graham Motion 2nd – Preakness
Brilliant Speed Tom Albertrani 7th – Ky. Derby
Master of Hounds Aidan O’Brien 5th – Ky. Derby
Monzon Ignacio Correas IV 6th – Peter Pan
Mucho Macho Man Kathy Ritvo 6th – Preakness
Nehro Steve Asmussen 2nd – Ky. Derby
Prime Cut Neil Howard 3rd – Peter Pan
Ruler On Ice Kelly Breen 2nd – Federico Tesio
Santiva Eddie Kenneally 6th – Ky. Derby
Shackleford Dale Romans 1st – Preakness
Stay Thirsty Todd Pletcher 12th – Ky. Derby


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