The Belmont Stakes is unlike any other with the mile and one-half route to the finish line, a distance that none of today’s competitors have ever attempted. Most the field will be exhausted with an eighth-of-a mile to go, making it a possible set up for an unforeseeable finish with huge prices.
Turns at Belmont Park are drawn out and wide, giving the top two tiers of the pack an advantage. I always thought the key to winning the Belmont was on the long back stretch. The stretch run is not as long as it seems, so getting forward position on the back stretch will be my key in hitting my ticket.
With that in mind, I’m going to try to beat Preakness Stakes winner and today’s favorite EXAGGERATOR. I’m going to play against the short- price chalk in hopes that the third leg of the Triple Crown will be too punishing and fatiguing. I think the horses to play today are the ones that have a tactical advantage, and I’m going to eliminate all rivals who I think will be 10 lengths back at the mile marker. I’m swinging for the fences today in hopes of hitting a grand slam.
My Trifecta Box Participants
STRADIVARI will be stamped as my top choice after running a well-fought fourth in the Preakness on a sloppy track that he didn’t really appreciate. Expect this lightly raced, developing colt to escort the probable front runner GETTYSBURG, for first attack with the perfect pace scenario in the marathon distance. I really like this horse at a square price. To me, he has more upside than any of his rivals for trainer Todd Pletcher. Pletcher has Belmont success under his belt and knows how to get his runners ready for the last leg of the Triple Crown. Jockey John Velazquez, goes for his third Belmont Stakes trophy.
DESTIN is the other Pletcher runner, who had a horrible start in the Kentucky Derby but made up ground late.
Destin will not be too far behind his stablemate. His early speed will put him in the mix on the back stretch, letting Gettysburg do all the dirty work in front of him. Impressive workouts coming in off the five week layoff suggesting he’s ready to fire.
GOVERNOR MALIBU is my sneaky long-shot play for trainer Christopher Clement, who seems to have been preparing his colt toward today’s race.
He ran second best in the Peter Pan Stakes and now benefits with home-field advantage and should get ground saving stalking trip with the inside draw.
CREATOR could have traffic trouble in a two-horse parade but maybe today he finds his way closer to the pace without all the checking and bumping from the start.
His Kentucky Derby beginning was a total disaster, so let’s cross that out and head back to the drawing board. Big plus today, he gets one of the Ortiz brothers, who dominate the New York circuit, to ride. Secondly, I think he’ll drift mid pack sitting closer than 10 lengths with 1/2 mile to go. Obvious danger down the stretch.
EXAGGERATOR is strictly the one to beat, especially with his main rival -- Nyquist -- out of the picture. He seems to be improving with each effort, and watch out if rain develops during the day. This beast loves the slop.
I just don’t think the snappy pace will be there to rally on and I’m not sure he’ll enjoy the extended distance. Still must respect and must include for underneath spots.
With all that said, here are my bets.
$1 Trifecta Box (1,2,5,11,13) $60
$20 Win/Place #5 Stradivari $100 Total