2010 Belmont Stakes Betting Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 6/5/2010
The Belmont is going to be one heck of a horse race. It doesn't have the big name horses that people long for in this race, but from a betting perspective it couldn't be more interesting. Post time is just a day away, so the time has come for me to make some 2010 Belmont Stakes predictions:
These Horses Will Not Win
Dave in Dixie - He didn't like dirt in his only try, he doesn't seem to like distance, and he has never really measured up well against good competition. I don't think he belongs, and he'll get badly over-bet because Calvin Borel is on him and on the rail. Borel in the Belmont is a reason to bet against him after his woeful ride on Mine That Bird last year.
Spangled Star - His lone win was in his sixth try at a maiden race, and that came at Laurel Park. That's a long, long way from Belmont. Garrett Gomez is clearly desperate for a Triple Crown win if he's willing to get on a horse like this.
Stay Put - He's a deep closer with one move. A horse like that needs a very solid pace to follow and set the race up for a closing kick. He's not likely to get that here. Even if he does he's not likely to be able to capitalize on it - he just hasn't been good enough when he faces good horses.
These Horses Probably Won't Win
Uptowncharlybrown - I love the change in trainers to Kiaran McLaughlin - a definite upgrade for this situation. I also love how this horse has looked and trained. He's got a jockey who knows the track as well. The problem, though, is the distance. He has run two very good races in his life, but they were at six and seven furlongs. This race is 12 furlongs. The longer he goes the less impressive he has been, so I expect him to hit a huge wall in this one.
Make Music For Me - I liked the closing drive this horse made in the Derby to go from 20th to 4th. I like his breeding, too. The problem for me is the same as Stay Put - he's a closer who needs a fast pace early on to tire the set and set up his move, and I don't think he'll get it. I'm also concerned about the distance - he wasn't at his most impressive in the last furlong of the Derby, so the extra quarter mile could definitely be out of his comfort zone. I'll have him in the bottom of my exotics, but likely not on top.
Drosselmeyer - This horse has the same owner as Super Saver, but I don't think that he'll have the same luck. He's hung around against some good horses, but he's never quite been good enough. He was happy to see the wire in his last race, and that was just a mile and an eighth, so I have serious concerns about the distance here. He's a talented horse who should be improving, but he just doesn't seem to be.
Interactif - I like the fact that Todd Pletcher saw something that made him want to give this horse a shot at the last minute. The last time he did that in this race Rags To Riches won it. I also love the breeding and class of this horse. My problem is that I just don't think he wants to win. He has the talent to win some races, but he seems happier making way for other horses and sticking with just a piece of it. He has also been at his best on turf and synthetic, not dirt like this race will be run on. He's an exotics factor, but not a winner.
Stately Victor - He was very impressive in the Blue Grass, and horses out of that race have gone on to achieve impressive things - Paddy O'Prado, First Dude, and Make Music For Me. I just don't have faith that this horse can translate that to the dirt. He looked incredibly tired down the stretch in the Derby, and I don't think that running on a fast track this time will be enough to make him want to run a quarter mile further.
This Horse Could Win
Game On Dude - Bob Baffert took over this horse, put blinkers on him, and won the Lone Star Derby. That was against a lousy field, but it was still a nice effort. Now Baffert has had his hands on this guy for another month, and that can't help but benefit the horse. Baffert and Martin Garcia have been hot together, and Baffert knows this race well. He'd have to take a big step forward to win here, but he took a massive step forward for his last race, so it's certainly a possibility.
These are Horses That Can Win
Ice Box - He's a deserving favorite after being clearly the best horse in the Derby. If he runs his race then I don't think he can be beat here. My concern is with his ability to run that race. There isn't a lot of natural speed in this race (more on that in a second), so the early fractions are going to be slow. In his last two wins Ice Box has come from way, way back in the field, but that's very hard to do when the early pace has been plodding and the horses in front of him still have gas in the tank. He'll likely have to settle much closer to the pace in this one, but when he has done that he hasn't been as impressive. I respect him, but I think he'll attract too much money, and I'll probably play against him on top on principle.
Fly Down - The other Nick Zito horse - Ice Box is the first - is a beauty. His win in the Dwyer last time out on this same Belmont track was a work of art. He settled comfortably off the pace early on. Around the final turn he made his move, and from the second he hit the gas there was no doubt he was going to win. It was a sweeping, stunning run - perhaps the most visually impressive by a three year old this year. The problem, though, is that it kind of came from nowhere - he'd been a nice horse before, but not that nice, and his previous outing had been an epic disaster. If he's the same horse as he was in the Dwyer then he'll win. Distance certainly won't be an issue for him based on his breeding. Zito has a very good shot at a third Belmont win here.
First Dude - If I had to pick one horse this would be it, I think. The first reason is his Preakness performance. He set the pace right out of the gate, and it was a quick one. Lesser horses would have been burnt out by the stretch, but he not only was in it until the end - he finished second - but he punched and counter-punched with Lookin at Lucky the whole way. That shows a toughness that is rare, and which I am a sucker for.
I also really think he's bred well for this race - he's absolutely massive, and it takes a while for him to settle in and find his full stride, so the long stretches ad sweeping turns of this track will be ideal. Distance isn't a concern, either.
The biggest reason I like him, though, is his tactical advantage. In a long race like this it can be very bad if a horse who wants the lead has to fight for it. There isn't likely to be much competition in this case. Once he gets the lead he's big and imposing enough to be able to settle down the fractions and cruise through the first half at minimal effort. That helps him because he'll have a lot left for the stretch, and it also disarms his biggest rivals who rely on the pace breaking down in front of them. Once he gets into the stretch he has shown that he has what it takes to make a duel of it.
I have a concern that he has yet to be the best in a big race, but this is the ideal situation for him to break through. At his 7/2 morning line or better this is one attractive choice.
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