Monday, June 13, 2011

Belmont - Recap

Belmont Stakes- Recap

Ruler on Ice
Stay Thirsty
Brilliant Speed

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Nehro, Shackleford, Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man, Santiva, Monzon, Master of the Hounds, Prime Cut, Isn’t He Perfect

At the end of the race the announcer yells out – a SHOCKER in the Belmont….but after a “shocker” in the Arkansas Derby, a “bombshell” in the Kentucky Derby, and a surprise in the Preakness…..I think it’s more appropriate had he just yelled….

“A long shot wins….again – WTF?!?! “

Okay so maybe the language at the end would be a bit much for NBC….but I know that’s what many people were thinking.

Despite his fifth place finish, I thought Shackleford gave a valiant effort in the Empire State slop – he broke well from the gate – ran the race we’ve seen him run twice before, and even extended himself in the lead past a mile and ¼ before he faded. This horse kept getting better throughout the Triple Crown - but his style of racing and his troublesome post position made a fifth place finish a bit of a victory in my opinion! As we exit the Triple Crown I think you have to consider Shackleford the best “healthy” three year old horse for races 1 mile to 1 1/8 miles.

Animal Kingdom – in contrast to Shackleford – did not break well from the gate….or rather his Jockey didn’t. Three seconds out of the gate Animal Kingdom appears to slip in the mud or perhaps clip heels with rival Monzon, which nearly sends his jockey flying forward – both of them seem to regain composure and Animal Kingdom makes an impressive bolt at the 1:46 minute mark – passing up seven horses in a matter of a few seconds….and then it’s as if the Kentucky Derby Champion looks at what’s still ahead and decides to quit with the last quarter ahead of him....perhaps they should call him Animal "King" Dom.....

I'm kidding - I actually think LeBron is okay.
Both he and Shackleford seemed to share a similar fatigue at this point in the race.

Stay Thirsty had been a sharp horse to watch throughout the spring, however he never showed a proclivity for this kind of distance – in fact I had him down as fading at 1 1/16th miles….his Belmont Stakes may be the sign of a horse finding his potential ! From what I’m reading he and 3rd place Brilliant Speed may run again at the end of July in the Jim Dandy Stakes - should be worth checking out!

From what I saw in the previous week – Brilliant Speed in 3rd was the only thing that made sense to me!

I was certainly surprised by the winner Ruler on Ice – the Champions were exhausted and with a sloppy field perhaps the race was completely up for grabs – all things considered, once Animal Kingdom quit and Shackleford began to fade,  I thought Nehro would be the one to watch, however he mysteriously only seems to pick up his pace after the race is finished.

The conclusion of the Triple Crown – is a frustrating mystery, making it for me, a disappointing season.

Granted there was very little serious injury this year – which is always a blessing, however as Ruler On Ice crossed the finish line – I felt like I still needed one more race to help determine how good any of these horses are/were…..which in general is a big part of why I continue to write about the sport….if the three Triple Crown winners, and a few spring hopefuls decide to meet up for 1 1/8th miles – and we don’t have yet another longshot shocker in that race….I think it would offer some resolve to the season.

Maybe the Jim Dandy, Travers Stakes…..possibly even the West Virginia Derby - I'll continue writing regardless - however a rematch between a number of these horses would make it a lot more fun.

Video to follow:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Belmont Stakes

Saturday June 11th , 2011
Name: Belmont Stakes Grade: I
Purse: $1,000,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/2 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Master of the Hounds
Stay Thirsty
Ruler On Ice
Brilliant Speed
Prime Cut
Animal Kingdom
Mucho Macho Man
Isn’t He Perfect

Five of the first six horses return to Triple Crown racing after skipping the Preakness (#3 Ruler On Ice didn’t participate in the Kentucky Derby – he recently finished 2nd in the Federico Tesio stakes).

The following is how the first group of Kentucky Derby contestants faired –

(#1) Master of the Hounds – 5th
(#2) Stay Thirsty – 12th
(#4) Santiva – 6th
(#5) Brilliant Speed – 7th
(#6) Nehro – 2nd

Nehro has been a threat all year to finally “win” a big stakes race – currently he’s finished 2nd in three straight Derbies (Louisiana / Arkansas / Kentucky) – the advantage he brings against horses like Animal Kingdom and Shackleford – is he’s had more rest than the two Preakness competitors. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up being the “betting” favorite in this race at post time.

From what I’ve seen Santiva and Stay Thirsty won’t compete past 1 1/16th miles – I think the distance in this race knocks them out.

This will be the first time Ruler On Ice has really competed at this level - certainly he's the kind of "WHO?" horse capable of winning something like the Belmont Stakes....but there's nothing in his history to suggest he's got the ability to beat some of the better horses in this field.

Master of the Hounds should improve in this race – however outside of a 2nd place finish in the UAE Derby this horse hasn’t been very impressive – I’m leaning away from this 10-1 horse right now…..however the one longshot (15-1) I am interested in is Brilliant Speed.

Brilliant Speed has looked very solid at 1 1/8 miles – and if the price is right, after having rested a month he may be worth a look!

#7 Monzon and #8 Prime Cut return from a rematch in the Peter Pan Stakes here at Belmont where they finished sixth and third respectively. These two horses have a solid post position and familiarity with the track…but I don’t think either horse has the talent to beat most of the horses in this field.

The final four horses return in a rematch from the Preakness where Kentucky Derby victor #9 Animal Kingdom placed behind a resolute #12 Shackleford.

Finishing behind the two Triple Crown champions were #11 Isn’t He Perfect (9th place) and #10 Mucho Macho Man (6th place).

Fatigue will certainly be a concern for the returning champions Animal Kingdom and Shackleford who will be up against the longest race of their lives, after having already appeared in the most races in the shortest amount of time (3 races in 5 weeks) in their short careers.

Shackleford’s 12th position in this race didn’t do him any favors either – as he will have to break very well out of the gate – beat everyone to the first turn and cut across the track so that he can establish the lead and the pace which has served as his recipe for success so far.

I really like Shackleford – he’s a tough little go-getter and I’ve certainly enjoyed watching him come into his own during the Triple Crown – however a 12th spot for his style of racing and at this distance seems to be asking far too much.

All things considered this race lines up very well for Animal Kingdom v Nehro – both of these horses prefer to close late and you have to wonder which is more likely –

Animal Kingdom, despite fatigue, continues to showcase more talent than any of the other competitors?
Nehro finally gets a much anticipated trip to the Winner’s Circle?

From a bettors point of view – I like betting $24 on Mucho Macho Man, Brilliant Speed, Nehro and Animal Kingdom for a tri-fecta box. With a little luck Mucho or Brilliant Speed may end up splitting the two favorites….or even better winning!!

Sadly my “selections” are pretty boring with the two favorites winning and placing….

Closing Speed likes: Animal Kingdom, Nehro and Brilliant Speed

Just because it's a great song for the weekend!