2010 Belmont Stakes Contenders
by Trevor Whenham - 6/1/2010
This is not a Belmont field that is going to excite the casual bettors - those that only care about Triple Crown attempts and anything to do with Seabiscuit. Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver was exposed in the Preakness, and Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky is resting up for a big summer season. There's not a single horse that will have run in all three Triple Crown races, either. Despite that, there are some very interesting horses in the field for the third jewel in the Triple Crown, and there's good chance that Saturday, June 5 is going to deliver a very interesting, exciting race. Here's a look at some of the more interesting 2010 Belmont Stakes contenders.
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Ice Box - This Nick Zito trainee was second in the Derby. He faced all sorts of traffic troubles, and couldn't chase down Super Saver despite an explosive final charge. After taking a break for the Preakness he's back here and will be the likely favorite. Zito has done well in this race, and broken some hearts as well - both Da' Tara and Birdstone won this race and ended wildly popular Triple Crown bids by Big Brown and Smarty Jones in the process. Ice Box is going to be the solid favorite in the race. He obviously has the class to come through when it matters. Distance is a question for him, but there isn't a horse in this field - any year - who is certain to love the marathon length of this race.
Fly Down - Ice Box has a stablemate who could be a factor here as well. He was absolutely disastrous in the the Louisiana Derby, but he bounced back in the Dwyer on the Belmont surface to win in an incredibly impressive performance a week after the Derby. He obviously likes this track, and is bred to like the distance. Zito has the best one-two punch he has had in a Triple Crown for a long time.
First Dude - There's a good chance that this horse will go off as the second favorite after Ice Box. He was second in the Preakness, and earned a lot of respect with that effort. Trainer Dale Romans is having a very good spring - he also trains Derby third-place finisher Paddy O'Prado. First Dude is a very solid looking horse who is deceptively graceful. He has improved in each of his three stakes races, and he has trained very well leading up to this race. He's likely to be the pacesetter in the Belmont, and without a whole lot of natural speed in the race he may just be able to hold on.
Drosselmeyer - This is a horse that wanted to get into the Derby field but didn't have the earnings to make it. He was a distant second behind Fly Down in th Dwyer, and a solid third well ahead of the same horse in the Louisiana Derby. He likes to settle comfortably off the pace, and that's a pretty good place to be in the Belmont.
Game On Dude - Bob Baffert's Lookin at Lucky is at home, but Baffert will still have a shot n this race. He only took over this horse two races ago, but the results have been positive - after a fair effort in the Derby Trial he was impressive in winning the Lone Star Derby with Preakness-winning jockey Martin Garcia aboard. He's definitely moving forward.
Make Music For Me - No one is really taking about him, but this horse had a pretty impressive Kentucky Derby. He was dead last and as many as 28 lengths off the pace early in that race, and was forced to move eight wide down the stretch, but got up for a solid fourth place showing despite traffic issues. That was his debut on dirt, and he obviously liked it. If he can improve off of that effort then he could certainly be a factor here.
Stately Victor - The Blue Grass Stakes winner is back after a very disappointing Derby. He was never much of a factor in that race, and dirt is a huge question for him. I tend to think that he just had an abnormally good day at the Blue Grass that isn't likely to happen again, but maybe he'll surprise me.
Uptowncharlybrown - This is a very interesting horse in this field. There is little in his past performances that lead us to believe he is going to be a major factor. He's on a wild ride, though - he'll be starting for his third trainer in three races - so it is hard to know what he could be capable of. New trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is a very talented guy who has won this race before, and horses often get a boost the first time out with a new trainer, so this horse can't be ignored.
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Interactif - It didn't look like Derby winning trainer Todd Pletcher was going to have a horse at the Belmont, but Interactif has been working well and is a late addition to the field. He's a physically impressive horse with obvious talent, but he just doesn't seem to have the killer instinct required to be the best horse on the field. On the basis of pure class, though, he can compete with anyone here.