At the Gate - Belmont Stakes
June 6, 2014
By Mike Dempsey
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The Triple Crown trail ends this afternoon, and we will be witnessing the first horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes since 1978 or we will be disappointed for the 13th time since the year I last wore a leisure suit.
I cannot help but to keep looking at the list of good horse that came up short in the Belmont Stakes. I’ll Have Another did not even make it to the race, out on the eve of the Belmont with a tendon injury in 2012.
The last two to come up short on the racetrack were Big Brown in 2008, who was eased at betting odds of 1-5, and Smarty Jones in 2004, who also was 1-5 but put in a valiant effort, run down in deep stretch by Birdstone.
It looks as if California Chrome is going be somewhere between 2-5 and 3-5 in the betting, and in an 11-horse field of runners that all have never been tested at 1 ½ miles, that price is going to be tough to take.
While the odds closer to post time will likely determine how much I wager on the race, there is no doubt I will be firing away earlier on the card on what is just a stellar day of racing. There are 10 stakes on the 13-race card with six Grade 1 races.
The Jaipur (G3) drew Ben’s Cat from Maryland. The eight-year-old has earned nearly $2 million in his career, mostly sprinting on the grass for trainer King T. Leatherbury. The gelding has won 25 of his 39 career starts.
Social Inclusion is the headliner in the Woody Stephens (G2), but at the morning line odds of 7-5 may be worth taking a stand against. The field is strong and includes the Todd Pletcher trained Havana, who was the runner up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
My Miss Sophia is a very talented filly, but she is 6-5 in the Acorn (G1) which drew a solid field of 13. Fashion Plate, Fiftyshadesofgold and Sweet Reason sure look like they could win with their best.
The Ogden Phipps (G1) drew just six but when you line up Beholder, Close Hatches and Princess of Sylmar, you are going to have a horse race. Combined they have won a dozen Grade 1 races. It will be 13 after this race.
The Just a Game (G1) drew 10 fillies and mares led by Discreet Marq, who was a game second in the Jenny Wiley (G1) last out in her 2014 debut. She landed in the exacta in seven of her eight starts last year.
I am not sure how we are going to beat Palace Malice in the Met Mile (G1), but there are a dozen that will line up to try and beat the 8-5 morning line favorite.
In the race before the Belmont, a field of 10 will go 1 ¼ miles on the Manhattan (G1). The older turf division is not very deep right now, but the race has a wide-open field led by the Bill Mott trained Seek Again, who was beaten just a head last out in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1), beaten by two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
HRTV and TVG will cover the early action, with NBC Sports Network picking things up at 2:30 p.m. (ET). We then move over to NBC at 4:30 p.m. (ET). Post time for the Belmont Stakes is 6:52: p.m. (ET).
To purchase my full card report for Belmont Stakes Day click here.
Here is today’s opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BEL Race 1 Alw $96,000N1X (11:35 ET)
9 Jimmy Connors 4-1
3 Spartiatis 10-1
7 Forever Thing 7-2
2 Bernardo 3-1
Analysis: Jimmy Connors put in a good effort at this level last out in a runner up finish behind Misconnect, who I like in today's Easy Goer. He picks up blinkers here and Espinoza and the stretch out to a route should suit. He is by Yes It's true out of a Bertrando mare. There is not a ton of speed signed up to go here and Victor may be able to shake loose in the early going.
Spartiatis was not a threat last out after a wide trip in a seventh place finish on turf and is back on the main track here. The gelding broke his maiden on the inner track three back and then ran a decent third on turf two back in his first start against winners, running into repeat winner Front, who beat Alw-2 optional claimers in his next start on May 22. Stevens takes the call for the low profile Blusiewicz barn. He should be in the mix here at a decent price.
Forever Thing makes his first start since winning second in the Long Branch last July. The colt broke his maiden over the main track here and the Pletcher barn is 26% winners with runners coming back off a +180 day layoff.
WIN: #9 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,9 / 2,3,7,9
TRI: 3,9 / 2,3,7,9 / 2,3,7,8,9
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
BEL Race 9 The Metropolitan Hcp G1 (4:48 ET)
1 Palace Malice 8-5
13 Shakin It Up 6-1
9 Normandy Invasion 5-1
6 Central Banker 8-1
Analysis: Palace Malice draws the rail which could potentially get this guy in trouble, but he is coming off a pair of solid wins, taking the New Orleans 'Cap (G2) and the Westchester (G3) last out over the main track here at today's one mile distance He only had to beat three foes but he did it early, winning by nearly 10 lengths and nearly matching his career best speed fig which he earned two back. Last year's Belmont Stakes (G1) winner owns a solid pace profile throughout and his last work had the clockers buzzing. We will just have to settle for the short price.
Shakin It Up made a good ate rally, coming with a four wide bid and battling on gamely while floating outward with the jock unable to go to his left hand. Five from that race including the winner Central Banker are in here while Delaunay, who was fifth, came back to win the Aristides ((G3) on May 31 at Churchill Downs. The colt has earned triple digit Beyers in three of his last four starts and is coming off a career top. He won the Malibu (G1) at seven furlongs and can handle the extra furlong. Rosie takes the call and he makes his second start off a two month break and should be a fair price in this spot.
Normandy Invasion was actually favored over Palace Malice the New Orleans 'Cap but was no match for our top pick. The colt has had some foot issues and makes just his third start since running fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) last year. The one-turn mile suits but he tends to take a bit too much action at the betting windows. The Brown barn is 29% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 45-90 day break and should get a good trip sitting mid pack.
WIN: #1 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,13 / 1,6,9,13
TRI: 1,13 / 1,6,9,13 / 1,6,9,13 / 1,4,6,9,13
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R1: #3 Spartiatis 10-1
R4: #4 Upgrade 10-1
R4: #9 Positive Side 8-1
R5: #10 Kobe’s Back 15-1
R6: #5 Sweet Reason 10-1
R6: #1 Fashion Plate 12-1
R7: #2 Antipathy 30-1
R8: #2 Strathnaver 20-1
R9: #6 Central Banker 8-1
R11: #8 Commissioner 20-1
R11: #11 Tonalist 8-1
R12: #4 North Star Bay 10-1
R13: #6 Confrontation 8-1
Good luck today!
To purchase my full card report for Belmont Stakes Day click here.
HORSE RACING EXPERT
Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.
Mike has also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.
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