With the 143rd Belmont Stakes running this Saturday, OTB has done a rundown of the field.  While there won’t be a Triple Crown winner in 2011, there are still some compelling storylines in this race.  Both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners will be running again, and they’ll be taking much of the betting action.  Owners of both horses spent the week taking jabs at each other, although it’s hardly newsworthy outside of the racing community (and this blog).  At a mile and a half, I’m expecting the race to be a few notches slower than the Preakness.  Shackleford looks to take the lead again, and while he’s a fine horse, I think the distance will be too great for him to lead all the way.  The weather forecast is also calling for some rain, so be prepared for a sloppy track.

  1. Master of Hounds (10-1):  Really liking his chances although a few pundits have been talking up this horse (not a good sign usually).  He had a respectable finish in the Kentucky Derby and really looked like he needed another race to get into winning form.  Hopefully his odds will resemble his morning line of 10-1.  I’d downgrade his chances if the track turns sloppy.  European horses, mostly turf runners, aren’t used to having mud kicked in their face, and so chances are he won’t enjoy it.
  2. Stay Thirsty (20-1):  It’s tough to see this horse being a factor, as he was beat soundly in the Florida Derby.  He didn’t fire in the Derby also, but we can give him a pass on that, as a horse’s chances can be severely compromised due to the large field size.
  3. Ruler on Ice (20-1):  This runner is taking a big jump in class, having come in second in a non-graded stakes race, and third in the Sunland Derby.  Still, he looks like he could relish the added distance of the Belmont.  Might just find a way to hit the board.
  4. Santiva (15-1):  I liked this horse in the Kentucky Derby, and while he didn’t win, he was pretty close to Master of Hounds.  Another horse that could get better with more distance.  If the odds are generous, should consider.
  5. Brilliant Speed (15-1):  I gave this horse little chance in the Derby, but he closed with Santiva and Master of Hounds in that race.  He has been galloping at Belmont Park the last few weeks, and hopefully getting used to the track surface.  Jockey aboard this one is good at rating horses also.
  6. Nehro (4-1):  Owner and trainer probably made the right call to skip the Preakness and aim for this race instead.  The Triple Crown is like the Stanley Cup of horse racing and being fresh and fit can often give an edge.  Certainly has a chance here, although I’m not a fan of the jockey aboard this one.  With a slower pace, Nehro may be closer to the lead again, and that did not play out well last time.
  7. Monzon (30-1):  This horse hasn’t been very impressive in his last two races, and seems to be a few classes below the field.  It’s best to invest our dollars elsewhere.
  8. Prime Cut (15-1):  In his last race, he seemed to be stalling out in the stretch drive after being close to the pace.  He’ll be running at the same track, but with a longer distance.  Not impossible, but not looking very probable.
  9. Animal Kingdom (2-1):  The distance should not be an issue here, and I’ll admit he deserves favouritism in this race.  Still, odds of 2-1 are slim pickings for a race that has had very big payouts in recent years.
  10. Mucho Macho Man (10-1):  Will a change in shoes work at Belmont Park?  This horse has had more than it’s fair share of bad luck.  A change-up in jockeys might also boost his chances, but I wonder if his form will hold up.  There haven’t been many horses who are competitive in all three triple crown races and he might need a rest here.
  11. Isin’t He Perfect (30-1):  This runner was never a factor in the Preakness or Derby preps.  You also have to think jockey Rajiv Maragh did not have this horse in mind as his ride in the Belmont.
  12. Shackleford (9/2):  Brave, brave Shackleford.  That was a gutsy performance in the Preakness.  He’d have a better chance here if he could stalk behind another runner, but it’s hard to change running styles.  This certainly wouldn’t be the stage to try it as well.  Sorry, but the distance seems too far this time round.  He’ll be a force to be reckoned with if he runs in the Breeders’ Cup dirt mile.

We’re getting closer to cashing a ticket in these Triple Crown races, with two third place showings so far.  Let’s take two horses to win and place.  If the track is rated as fast or good, we’ll go with:

  • 1) Master of Hounds, and
  • 5) Brilliant Speed

If the track is rated at sloppy or muddy, let’s take:

  • 4) Santiva, and
  • 5) Brilliant Speed
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