Belmont Stakes Odds and Props Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 6/10/2011
It’s almost Belmont time. That means it is time to make some Belmont predictions. I am always a bit conflicted when this race rolls around. On one hand the spectacle of this grueling event is always compelling. On the other hand, though, it signals the end of the Triple Crown trail. That means that racing fades back into the background until Breeders’ Cup time.
This year’s run down the road to the Triple Crown certainly won’t go down as a classic. It hasn’t been nearly as bad as it looked like it could have been, though. There is a rivalry for this final race - albeit a manufactured one that I don’t expect to be particularly relevant at the wire here. There are a huge number of Derby horses in the field, and a lot of horses that are maturing before our eyes. It could definitely be worse.
As I bid a sad farewell to Triple Crown season, here are five Belmont predictions I feel pretty good about:
A Derby horse will win the race - I know that’s not a very bold prediction when eight of the 12 horses in the field including the seven lowest priced horses all previously ran in the Kentucky Derby. I’ll go one step further if you want - the trifecta is likely to be made up of Derby horses. The four non-Derby horses in the field just aren’t impressive. Monzon is a bad joke. Isn’t He Perfect was laughably outclassed in the Preakness and the distance isn’t going to help him much. Ruler on Ice is a decent horse, but certainly doesn’t seem to be a special one. Prime Cut is the class of the new arrivals, but he didn’t factor significantly into a very winnable Peter Pan last time out, so I don’t see how he steps up and wins here. He probably won’t mind the distance, but I’m not at all confident that he will love it. I have no intention of betting any of these four horses in any exotics. If they beat me then this isn’t as good of a class of three year olds as I think it is - and that’s not saying much.
Master of Hounds is going to be a big factor - I am totally mystified by this horse and the way he has been handled. He was sent to the Derby off a long break, but they gave him no time to train on a service he had never seen before. Then they sent him home to Ireland and I assumed we would never see him again. Now, just five weeks later he is back for more. He still isn’t being given a lot of time to train on dirt. There are a lot of reasons to doubt this horse, but I can’t help but think that they wouldn’t have gone to the effort and expense of sending him here twice if they didn’t see something in the horse. He’s bred for distance, he trains for distance, and he has some class. If he stays at or near his 10/1 morning line then he packs some serious value.
Shackleford isn’t going to win - I have a lot of respect for the race that the horse ran to win the Preakness. I was totally and utterly convinced he wouldn’t hold on down the stretch. So was John Velazquez, apparently, or Animal Kingdom’s jockey would have started chasing him down more enthusiastically sooner. That being said, the defining factor for Shackleford in his races has been that while he has held on well at the end for the most part he hasn’t exactly look like he has had a bottomless amount of fuel left in the tank. He’s looked very happy to see the finish line. With the extra distance here I don’t think he can hang on - especially because there are some fairly impressive horses that are going to be chasing him down, and they aren’t likely to have been tired out by a rapid early pace. He won’t embarrass himself, but I won’t have him on top of exotics.
Nehro is a no - Nehro is the buzz horse, and he is going to be a popular choice here. I’m not buying into him, though. He has run three stakes races, and all three times he has finished second. In at least two of those races the win was there for him to grab and he didn’t grab it. Whether he isn’t quite good enough or just not hungry enough the fact remains that the horse has only ever won one maiden race, and it took him three tries to do that. I like the horse, just not enough to pick him to win.
Animal Kingdom is going to win - I have bet on him to win the last two races, so I don’t see why I should stop now. He was dominant in the Derby, and very solid in the Preakness. He is bred to run forever, and clearly seems to like the dirt. He’s beaten every horse that matters in this field. He is trained with much more of a focus on stamina than most horses in the country thanks to trainer Graham Motion. I wish his price was a bit higher, but I’ll take it and have him firmly on top of trifecta and superfecta bets with only a couple of saver bets out there if he loses. He’s clearly the class of this field, and betting on class is never a bad idea.
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