Friday, June 8, 2012

Belmont Stakes Racing Roundup

Like most horseracing fans, I was shocked and saddened to hear the news that I’ll Have Another had an injured tendon and was scratched from the Belmont Stakes (G1). But owner J. Paul Reddam did what was best for the welfare of I’ll Have Another and that’s what matters the most. 

I thought that I’ll Have Another had a good chance to win the Belmont and I talked about his chances to win the Triple Crown on the blog of my book publisher Trafalgar Square Books. 

Now that I’ll Have Another is out the Belmont appears to be wide open and I’m going to go with a lot of bombs in my picks.

Historically, descendants of the Mr. Prospector sire line have dominated the Belmont since the early 1990’s. 

Thunder Gulch won the Belmont Stakes in 1995 and of the 17 races since then, 13 of those races (76%) have been won by Mr. Prospector sire-line descendants: Ruler On Ice (2011), Drosselmeyer (2010), Summer Bird (2009), Jazil (2006), Afleet Alex (2005), Birdstone (2004), Empire Maker (2003), Point Given (2001), Commendable (2000), Lemon Drop Kid (1999), Victory Gallop (1998), and Editor’s Note (1996). 

Hansel won the Belmont in 1991. Conquistador Cielo won the Belmont in 1982.

I’ll Have Another is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and was my top pick before his scratch. Other Belmont entries that are sire-line descendants of Mr. Prospector are: Dullahan (5-1), Street Life (12-1), Atigun 30-1), Optimizer (20-1) and Guyana Star Dweej (50-1).

Of those horses, I like Dullahan, Street Life and Guyana Star Dweej and I’ll use them in my wagers with Union Rags (6-1) and Paynter (8-1).

In my Kentucky Derby blog Dullahan was one of my top picks and I believe he has a good chance in the Belmont too.

In his debut as a 3-year-old, Dullahan was a one-length runner up to Howe Great in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. A month later, Dullahan won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland defeating the 2-year-old Eclipse Champion Hansen by 1¼-lengths. He followed that win with a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

If Dullahan repeats his Derby performance, I expect him to finish in one of the top three spots.

Since his maiden debut in January, Street Life has shown steady improvement in each race except for his off-the-board finish in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1). I like the way that he closed from dead last in a 10-horse field to get third-place honors in the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) at Belmont on May 12.

Street Life earned a 100 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort and another move forward will make him very competitive in the Belmont.

And with the Derby winners Street Sense as his sire and Grindstone as his damsire, Street Life should have the stamina necessary to be competitive in the Belmont. His tail-female line is also reinforced with the 2,000 Guineas winner Known Fact and Epsom Derby winner Roberto.

Guyana Star Dweej has never raced farther than 8½-furlongs and a win would definitely be a big surprise. But he is a Mr. Prospector sire-line descendant and has the breeding to factor in the exotics. His sire Eddington finished fourth in the Belmont and damsire Pine Bluff finished third.

When he's on his game, jockey Kent Desormeaux, who picked up the mount on Guyana Star Dweej after losing his mount on Dullahan, has one of the best records in Triple Crown races. In 2009, Desormeaux won the Belmont with Summer Bird and finished second aboard Medaglia d’Oro in 2002 and Real Quiet in 1998.

Guyana Star Dweej has a decent racing record with one win and five second-place finishes in nine starts and at 50-1 odds I’m willing to use him in the exotic wagers and I’ll also have a small win bet on him.
I didn’t like Union Rags in the Derby but I think that he could run better in the Belmont.

The switch by trainer Michael Matz to jockey Johnny Velazquez is a plus in my opinion as he has a good record in the Belmont since his second-place finish aboard Bluegrass Cat in 2006.

In 2007, Johnny Velazquez won the Belmont on board Rags To Riches. He followed that with a third-place finish on Ready’s Echo in 2008, a second-place finish on Dunkirk in 2009 and another second-place finish on Fly Down in 2010.

It remains to be seen how well the son of Dixie Union will handle the 12-furlong distance of the Belmont, but Union Rags has some stamina influence in the distaff pedigree and the tail-female line is the same female line that produced the Belmont winner Colonial AffairGlad Rags is the third dam for both horses.

Paynter has become the buzz horse and, no doubt, he is a talented young colt. I’m not sold on him for the win but he could be a factor in the exotics.

I’ll have a small win bet on Guyana Star Dweej as well as a more substantial win, place bet on Street Life.

Here’s some exotic combinations I like using Street Life #1, Union Rags #3, Dullahan #5, Guyana Star Dweej #8 and Paynter #9:

Exacta: 1-5-8/1-3-5-8-9
Trifecta: 1-5-8/1-3-5-8-9/3-8-9
Superfecta: 1-5-8/1-3-5-8-9/3-8-9/3-8-9