The Belmont wouldn't be the Belmont if there weren't a couple of horses like this one entered. This colt has shown a flash or two of talent, but he is short on experience, hasn't followed a traditional path to get here, and it's very tough to know whether he is anywhere close to good enough. Most often horses like him don't measure up. In the last 20 years, though, seven horses have won at 25/1 or more in this race, so you certainly can't afford to completely ignore horses because they aren't quite on the high level you would generally prefer. That's one of many things that makes this race fundamentally different for handicappers than the Preakness.
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Last race: The Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont is the most relevant prep race for the Belmont Stakes. Five horses have won both the Peter Pan and the Belmont, including the great A.P. Indy and, most recently, Tonalist in 2014. Horses that win the Peter Pan obviously like the Belmont surface, so they are worth consideration. Well, this colt didn't win the race - Preakness-winning trainer Chad Brown won it with Timeline, but this colt was second. He led the race right to the stretch but was no match for the winner when they engaged briefly in a duel. To his credit, though, he held on for second when a lot of horses would have given up and faded badly after being beaten.
Prior experience: The Peter Pan was not only his first stakes race but also his first time running outside of maiden company. He made his debut only on Feb. 18, finishing second at Gulfstream. Six weeks later he was fourth. The third time was lucky, though, as he finally broke his maiden at Keeneland on April 22. And then it was time for the jump to the Peter Pan. So the horse has had a real shortage of experience and is making a massive jump up in class here.
Trainer: Brian Lynch won his first graded stakes race in 2006 but has turned a bit of a corner in his business lately - he won his first Breeders' Cup race last year with Oscar Nominated, and now he's in this spot. He's an Australian who originally came to North America to be a bull rider. He got his start as an assistant with the great Bobby Frankel and was the assistant primarily in charge of Breeders' Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year Ghostzapper. Lynch is based in Toronto and spends his winters in Florida.
Jockey: As recently as March 27, Manuel Franco was in line to get this mount. Lynch followed a cardinal rule in racing, though - if Mike Smith is available and willing to ride your horse you say yes. Smith is the king of big race riding right now. He is leading the nation in earnings despite having ridden a quarter of the mounts of his top contenders. He just knows how to get it done. He has won this race in 2010 and 2013, so he knows how to win on this challenging layout, too. This is a great pickup for the horse. It's not enough for me to love the horse, but it doesn't hurt.
Breeding: Meantime is a son of Shackleford, who won the 2011 Preakness. Shackleford is a young sire, with his top earner being Malagacy, who qualified for the Derby this year but was held out due to inexperience. Shackleford is a son of Forestry, who is best known for siring The Green Monkey, who was sold for a record $16 million as a yearling yet failed to break his maiden in three tries. Meantime's damsire is Mt. Livermore, who sired two Eclipse award winners but tended more towards sprinters than stamina horses. This is far from the most inspiring breeding in the field.
Odds: This is not a horse that the oddsmakers have much respect for - and that is deserved. His sire is unproven, his breeding generally isn't great for this task, and the horse has little experience and is taking a big jump up in class here. He is at +2200, which has him at a better price than only two horses. Frankly, I'm surprised he is better than any. You can be sure that he will go off at a bigger price than that at post time - and I still don't think he'll be particularly interesting.
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