How the 139th Belmont Stakes Shapes Up
by Greg Melikov - 06/06/2007
The third and oldest jewel of the Triple Crown appears to be a two-horse race between Curlin, the 6-5 morning line favorite, and Hard Spun, the 5-2 second choice.
The absence of Street Sense has ushered in a couple more challengers, but they shouldn't alter the results. Here's a look at the horses and how they should finish in Saturday's 139th Belmont:
Imawildandcrazyguy: Sure, he finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby. But the son of Wild Event, 20-1, has only two victories in a dozen trips - both last year at Calder where he defeated optional claimers six races after he broke his maiden. Hitting the board would be an accomplishment.
C P West: The son of Came Home hasn't visited the winner's circle since last August when he broke his maiden. Edgar Prado returns after guiding him to fourth in the Preakness. The 12-1 runner won't be higher this time around.
Slew's Tizzy: Despite going for his third consecutive triumph, the son of Tisnow, 20-1, hasn't scored against first-tier 3-year-olds, finishing seventh behind Circular Quay in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. A big plus: Rafael Bejarano climbs aboard for trainer Gregory Fox. A big negative: He hasn't raced beyond 1 1/16 miles and this test is 1 ½ miles. He could fight it out for third.
Rags to Riches: Trainer Todd Pletcher decided to let the Kentucky Oaks winner, 3-1, take on the boys. The daughter of A. P. Indy, who won the '92 Belmont, has captured all four starts this year, including three Grade 1 events, averaging more than a four-length margin. Her sire ranks first in earnings with $4.26 million through June 1. His siblings won 49 of 121 races. She could finish third.
Tiago: Lightly raced son of Pleasant Tap, 10-1, is bred to go long and will be coming from way back like he did winning the Santa Anita Derby. But he must be considerably closer than he was in the Kentucky Derby when he made up just two lengths in the stretch to finish 10 lengths back in seventh. He should finish third.
Hard Spun: Covering the distance shouldn't be a problem. The son of the late Danzig, who sired '86 Belmont winner Danzig Connection, has an equally outstanding dam sire in Turkoman. And he's the only horse with triple digit speed figures in the last three races. Garrett Gomez might mean the difference between winning and finishing second.
Curlin: A victory in the Belmont would seal his superstar status. He should avoid the trouble he encountered in the previous Triple Crown legs with the smaller field. His sire, Smart Strike, ranks third in earnings as his siblings earned $3.6 million through June 1, winning 42 times in 118 outings. Robby Albardo won't allow Steve Asmussen's pride and joy to lose.