2011 Belmont Stakes Post Position Analysis
by Robert Ferringo - 6/9/2011
It is a common belief that because of the distance of the Belmont Stakes – at 1.5 miles it is by far the longest of the Triple Crown horse races – that post positions are less important here than they are in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness. I don’t think that belief is necessarily true – and the distribution of winners over the last 100 years seems to back up my assertion – but I do think that post positions should be handicapped differently here in Belmont than at the Derby or the Preakness.
The 2011 Belmont Stakes will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 11. The race will be held at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York and it is the 143rd running of this third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. The Belmont post positions were compiled by blind draw on Wednesday afternoon.
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At the Kentucky Derby it is imperative not to be pushed to the furthest outside positions. Horses at post positions 16-20 at Churchill Downs seem to have next to no chance to win the Run for the Roses.
At Pimlico, being on the rail is arguably the worst position to be at. Because of the smaller field (the Preakness runs 14 horses, six fewer than the Derby) being to the outside isn’t as much of a weakness. However, all 12 horses are in a sprint at the Preakness and each of the horses tries to make a beeline for the rail when the gates open. So being on the inside is a tougher draw in that race.
At the Belmont, the first three post positions seem to hold the greatest advantage. Post position one has contributed nearly one in four winners of this race over the last 100 years, the highest ratio of any post in any of the Triple Crown races.
Further, the first five post positions have contributed 70 of the last 105 Belmont winners. That percentage of winners (66.7) from the positions closest to the rail is significantly higher than that from either the Kentucky Derby (52 of 111, 46.8) or the Preakness (54 of 104, 51.9 percent). Some of this can be attributed to a smaller Belmont field (12 horses) but that is still a wide margin.
Kentucky Derby winner and Belmont favorite Animal Kingdom drew the No. 9 position. Fortunately, Animal Kingdom is still inside two of its prime Belmont contenders, Mucho Macho Man and Shackleford. However, only one horse in the last decade has won from that position and only three horses in the last 15 years have won the Belmont from post position No. 9 or higher.
The biggest loser in the 2011 Belmont post position draw was clearly Shackleford. The Preakness winner already faced odds to win the Belmont because his sprinter style isn’t conducive to a distance race. Shackleford drew the No. 12 position – the furthest from the rail – and that will make a long race that much longer.
Since 1905 only one horse, Sarava in 2002, has won the Belmont from the No. 12 position.
Monzon, the biggest underdog on the board, drew post No. 7. This Belmont post position has produced two of the last four Belmont Stakes winners: Rags to Riches in 2007 and Drosselmeyer last June.
Below are the Belmont Stakes post positions and the number of wins since 1905, with the most recent winner from that Belmont post position in parentheses:
1 – 23 (Empire Maker, 2003)
2 – 11 (Tabasco Cat, 1994)
3 – 13 (Commendable, 2000)
4 – 10 (Summer Bird, 2009)
5 – 13 (Hansel, 1991)
6 – 7 (Da’Tara, 2008)
7 – 13 (Drosselmeyer, 2010)
8 – 6 (Jazil, 2006)
9 – 4 (Afleet Alex, 2005)
10 – 2 (Thunder Gulch, 1995)
11 – 2 (Victory Gallop, 1998)
12 – 1 (Sarava, 2002)
Here is the full draw for the 2011 Belmont Stakes post position:
1. Master of Hounds
2. Stay Thirsty
3. Ruler On Ice
5. Brilliant Speed
8. Prime Cut
9. Animal Kingdom
10. Mucho Macho Man
11. Isn't He Perfect
Robert Ferringo is coming off a back-to-back Triple Crown victories this year and will be going for the Horse Racing Handicapper Triple Crown – going 3-for-3 in Triple Crown predictions – at the Belmont his June. He has picked the winner in four of the last five Triple Crown horse races and you can sign up to get his Belmont picks for just $20.
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