Belmont Stakes Profile: Luv Gov
by Trevor Whenham - 05/28/2009
Last race: Luv Gov, named after disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, was last seen making his stakes debut in the Preakness. He was never a factor in the race. He settled early at the back of the pack, got forced eight wide entering the stretch, and was only able to hold his ground as a few fast fading stragglers went past him in reverse. He wound up eighth. On the plus side, he never exerted any real effort in the race, so he'll be reasonably fresh and ready for the Belmont.
Career highlights: Beyond the Preakness there aren't any. In fact, this horse hardly looks like he deserves to be in this race. He tried to break his maiden nine different times at four different tracks before finally getting it done on Derby day at Churchill Downs. The connections tried everything to get a win during that stretch, including putting eight different jockeys in the saddle. He showed some signs of life after being given a long winter break. He finished second three straight times, including once to fellow Belmont entrant Summer Bird, before getting his win.
Jockey: Jamie Theriot. Theriot rode the horse in the Preakness, and he was on board three other times, so he is likely to get the call in the Belmont. Theriot is a journeyman who toils primarily at tracks in Kentucky, Louisiana and Arkansas. He won his first Grade 1 race in 2007, and rode in his first classic last year, finishing sixth in the Preakness. This will be his first time running in the Belmont.
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas is getting on in years, but he was the master of the Triple Crown races in the 1980s and 1990s. He has four wins in the Derby and Belmont, and five in the Preakness. In 1995 he won all three races with two different horses. His last classic win came in 2000 at the Belmont with Commendable. That horse had won just once - nine months before the Belmont -- and was 17th in the Derby, so Lukas has shown the ability to win this race with a horse that comes from nowhere.
Pedigree: Luv Gov is a homebred son of Ten Most Wanted. His first crop of foals are just three this year, so it is hard to know what he brings to the table. He could certainly handle the distance, though - he finished second in the 2003 Belmont.
Running style: When a horse fails to win after so many tries, his connections will try all sorts of things to try to get him to win. As such, Luv Gov has run from far back in the field, and he has tried to win from the front. He seems to be at his best when he sits just off the pace before trying to get to the lead in the stretch. There shouldn't be a blistering pace in the Belmont, so this should be a manageable strategy. Given the potential lack of front-end speed, though, Lukas might try to put his horse on the lead.
Belmont prognosis: I just don't see it. Lukas is high on this horse, having pointed him at the Belmont for several months. He must see something that isn't immediately obvious. The horse hasn't shone on the track, he's not bred particularly well, and he hasn't set the world on fire with his works in preparation for this race. His jockey is fine, but isn't likely to improve the horse significantly. In short, I just don't see how this horse competes here. I'll leave hm off all my tickets, and I'll feel okay about it.