Noble Indy Odds to Win the 2018 Belmont Stakes with Picks and Predictions
Noble Indy offered us a sight we don't often see heading into the Kentucky Derby. He had won three of four career starts for one of the world's best stables, and had won a major Derby prep race, the Louisiana Derby, as the favorite. Yet he went off in the Derby at 59/1, the kind of price typically reserved for truly hopeless runners who barely scraped their way into the field. It was strikingly odd. Except unfortunately he ran to that price, fading horribly to finish 17th in the race.
So, what could have been the value of a lifetime was instead just sharp handicapping by skeptical bettors. Now Noble Indy is back again, and again he is on track to be a major long shot - though not quite as big of one as in Kentucky. Can he shock the world this time around? Can he inflate the exotics prices into the stratosphere? Or will it just be more of what we saw at Churchill Downs from him?
Last race: As I said in the opening, the Derby was really, really ugly for the colt. Florent Geroux was aboard hi for the first time, and the colt never seemed to warm to his new rider. Geroux was holding him very tight as the horse was trying to run away, and they were thrown at least five paths wide when they would rather have been saving ground. They were within striking distance early, but they kept fading, and by the time they entered the stretch it was clear that the colt was absolutely gassed. He faded to 17th and could have gone further back if it weren't for the other horses that were doing even worse than him. Whether it was running on an off track for the first time, the number of horses, the insane crowd, or likely all of the above, the colt never settled down and never gave himself a chance. It won't help that the crowd will again be large and the field not small for Justify's attempt at history in the Belmont.
Prior experience: The colt broke his maiden in first asking back in December at Gulfstream Park. He led most of the way and exploded late to win by more than eight lengths in the seven-furlong race. It was impressive and set him up to be the very heavy favorite in an allowance race a month later to kick off his three-year-old campaign. He sat second early but soon took the lead and took control, winning more handily than the margin of three-quarters of a length suggests against a strong field. From there it was time for stakes company, and he headed to the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. He was bumped at the start and never totally shook it off. He still wound up with a solid third behind Bravazo, the Preakness runner-up who will be in the Belmont as well. The came the Louisiana Derby. Again, he encountered some contact at the start, but he handled it better this time. He engaged in a bit of a duel throughout, seemed to be a beaten third in the stretch, but then showed a lot of heart and character to dig in and come back to win. It was a decent win, though not exactly dominant against what wasn't a great field.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher has entered more horses in the Derby than anyone else in history. Though he hasn't won as many as he should have, he gets top horses, and he knows what to do with them. He does have two Derby wins, and he has won the Belmont, which takes place on his home track, three times - most recently last year with Tapwrit. The colt is in good hands.
Jockey: Javier Castellano. The horse has his third jockey in three races. John Velazquez had ridden him for three races but had other saddles to be in for the Derby because Pletcher had so many horses and Velazquez gets first choice. Florent Geroux got the mount in Kentucky, and though he is very good it wasn't a good pairing. Both are in other places here - Velazquez on Pletcher's Vino Rosso, and Geroux on Bob Baffert's Restoring Hope. So, Castellano, who is Pletcher's typical second choice, gets this mount for the first time. Castellano is a four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey who has two Preakness wins to his credit, including one last year. His year this year has been slightly frustrating by his standards, but he is still very sharp and competitive and more than capable of a good race on this track.
Breeding: Noble Indy is a son of Take Charge Indy. He's a young sire who is still just making his mark, but the breeding is certainly there for this race. Take Charge Indy's sire, A.P. Indy, won the Belmont. A.P. Indy s a son of Seattle Slew and a grandson of Secretariat. He has sired Belmont winner Rags to Riches, and his grandson Tapit has sired three of the last four Belmont winners. Having A.P. Indy close up in your pedigree is far from a bad thing in this race. Noble Indy's damsire is Storm Boot, a successful sire in his own right who is a son of Storm Cat. Storm Cat sired Belmont winner Tabasco Cat among many other top horses and is the great-grandsire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. The breeding here is sound.
Odds: Noble Indy is currently at +3300 to win the Belmont at Bovada , which has him as the ninth choice among 12 possible Belmont starters.
Can Noble Indy Win the 2018 Belmont Stakes?: Maybe. He has yet to show that he is a top-level horse, and his last race was awful, but he has talent and good breeding, and the race could set up reasonably well for him if he can avoid an early pace battle if one develops and if Justify falters. I am far from optimistic, though.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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