Seahenge Odds to Win the 2018 Belmont Stakes with Picks and Predictions
The Belmont Stakes always draws a strange and interesting mix of horses. An iron horse or two - including one aiming for a Triple Crown win, of course - along with several horses that ran in the Derby and skipped the Preakness, and then they are joined by comers from all sorts of different corners. Some of the new comers are often surprising, and Seahenge definitely fits into that category. He comes from one of Europe's top stables, and his trainer could be the best in the world, but he has yet to look like a top-caliber horse. He's been very disappointing two races in a row, and this one is harder than both. I struggle to be optimistic about his chances in the Belmont.
Last race: Unlike the other two potential entrants who started their career in Europe, Seahenge is not making his North American debut here. In fact, this very well-travelled colt is making his second straight appearance on this side of the pond. He last appeared in the Pat Day Mile on the undercard of the Kentucky Derby. It went badly. He didn't get a great start, and he never recovered. He looked like he might be making a move late, but he quickly faltered and ran a distant seventh. While it was a terrible outing in every regard, it is easy to dismiss for a couple of reasons. First, the track was sloppy and the horse clearly didn't like that for just his second dirt outing. Second, as a result of the track conditions, the crazy pace, and a generally weird feel to the race, it was a truly bizarre result. A 40/1 horse won the race with a 32/1 horse second, and the favorites largely didn't fire. Restoring Hope also came out of that race with a poor effort and will also be in the Belmont.
Prior experience: Before the Pat Day Mile, the colt was last seen on the undercard of another top race - the UAE Derby is a Derby prep race on the Dubai World Cup undercard. It was another dismal effort - he finished fifth, 26 lengths back of Mendelssohn, the runaway winner of the race who went on to finish dead last in the Derby. Prior to that he had made six starts in Ireland and Britain, winning two of the first three including a Group 2, but he has struggled to establish himself since. He comes from a very strong stable with solid breeding, but it's hard to believe that he is a top horse himself. He certainly hasn't been able to prove that he is yet. The biggest thing he has going for him is that his connections keep putting him in these top spots. They know the game very well, so they must see something the rest of us can't yet.
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien. O'Brien had exceptional professional luck. When he was just 26 years old, in 1996, he became the private trainer at Ballydoyle Stables, the racing arm of Coolmore Stud, one of the biggest and most powerful breeding and racing operations in the world. He has been there ever since, and he has been very successful. In 2017 he set a world record for the most Grade or Group 1 race wins in a year with 28, beating the late Bobby Frankel's record of 25. He's an exceptional trainer who has access to a constant stream of incredible horses. He has had limited American Triple Crown experience - he most recently had Mendelssohn in the Derby this year, for example, though it didn't go well - but he has had plenty of American success. He has wins in 12 Breeders' Cup races, including one at Belmont, and he has won three other Grade 1 races at Belmont over the years. He's an obvious asset in this or any race.
Jockey: Ryan Moore. Moore is the first-call rider for O'Brien in major races around the world, and he rides for other top owners in Britain, including the Queen. He has been Britain's flat jockey of the year four times, and he is more than capable of top-caliber rides in big races. He typically only comes to the U.S. once or twice a year, but he has made the most of it - he has nine Breeders' Cup wins to his credit. The horse is in good hands.
Breeding: The breeding here is interesting for this colt. Seahenge is a son of Scat Daddy. That sire died far too young at just 11 years old, but his last class has been spectacular. The highlight, of course, is Justify. The challenge with judging Scat Daddy in this spot is we won't know how his offspring will handle this mile and a half distance until after the Belmont is run and we see how Justify does - and that will be too late for us. I'm optimistic when it comes to the sire, though. Seahenge's damsire is Not For Love, a now-deceased son of the great Mr. Prospector who is best known as the damsire of Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome. Chrome only finished fourth in the Belmont, but that had less to do with pedigree limitations than other factors. The breeding here is reasonably sound.
Odds: Seahenge sits at +3500 to win the Belmont, which has him sitting at ninth in the prospective 12-horse field. That seems reasonable.
Can Seahenge Win the 2018 Belmont Stakes?: I'm highly skeptical. He has not looked good on dirt in two tries, has not measured up to top three-year-olds in several tries, and it feels like an ambitious spot for him here. If he had lesser connections I'd call them foolish, but they deserve better than that.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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