Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

The 142nd Belmont Stakes

Posted by Brian Appleton on June 3, 2010

The post positions for the 142nd running of the June 5th Belmont Stakes have been drawn and a large field of 12 eager young contestants are ready to take their shot at a place in history. While there is no Derby or Preakness winner attempting to capture a second classic this year the field is far from unexciting and makes for a racing fans dream.

Taking the number one hole is Dave In Dixie with Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel up. Earlier in the year this guy was pretty well situated on many Kentucky Derby lists as a legitimate threat but after a string of very uninspiring runs the colt has faded into the background. He turned heads with his runner-up effort in the Robert B. Lewis after posting a furious late rally from the back of the field and making up a ton of ground.

In post two is Spangled Star and jockey Garrett Gomez, the longest shot in the field at 30-1. This guy hasn’t impressed yet this year and his connections have even said they don’t expect him to win but never underestimate a long-shot in the Belmont.

Uptowncharlybrown will break from post number three with jockey Rajiv Maragh for new trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. He last finished third to Exhi in the Lexington Stakes in April marking his third consecutive loss of the year. I wouldn’t count this guy out of any of the top four spots though, he seems to be a fairly consistent runner although I’m not sure that he will like the 1 ½ miles in the Belmont.

Make Music for Me will be breaking from the four hole under jockey Joel Rosario, the same number he finished at in the Kentucky Derby. There is potential for a great story; if Make Music for Me wins the Belmont, trainer Alexis Barba will become the first female trainer in history to not just win the Belmont Stakes, but the first female trainer to ever win a classic. That in itself would be a really good marketing angle for the race but Make Music for Me is no slouch and I believe he could get up for third or fourth.

In post position number five Fly Down and jockey John Velazquez start as the second runner for trainer Nick Zito behind race favorite Ice Box. Fly Down has won three of his last four starts with his last effort an impressive 6 length victory in the Dwyer Stakes (gr.2) at Belmont Park. In the Dwyer he easily defeated fellow Belmont Stakes contender Drosselmeyer along with five other over-matched rivals. This colt looks like a fast improving runner and has had plenty of time to recover from his Dwyer victory, don’t be surprised if he steals the entire show or at least takes the show spot.

Ice Box with jockey Jose Lezcano up will break from post six for trainer Nick Zito. He comes into the Belmont as the

Ice Box

favorite off his astonishing second place finish in the Kentucky Derby. In the Kentucky Derby he encountered probably more trouble than any other horse in the field and still managed to close from the rear of the field, work his way through horses and switch on a turn of foot that would put Zenyatta to shame. He entered the Derby off a similar style race in the Florida Derby, a race which he won by a nose, and with the added distance of the Belmont Stakes and the long Belmont stretch this race looks like it will suit the chestnut colt just fine. He has been working lights-out leading up to the Belmont which is typical Nick Zito handling.

Drosselmeyer and jockey Mike Smith take the seven hole in the Belmont field. Drosselmeyer started the year out right with a win against an allowance field but has since been working his way back up from first a fourth place finish in the Risen Star, then a third in the Louisiana Derby and last out finishing second to Fly Down in the Dwyer Stakes. He gets a new rider in the Belmont after having the services of Kent Desormeaux in seven of his eight lifetime starts. His works have been okay leading up to the Belmont but nothing that is going to turn heads and make you think he can get into the top four in the race at this point.

In post position eight Game On Dude and jockey Martin Garcia carry the hopes of trainer Bob Baffert to win his second classic race of the year after capturing the Preakness with Lookin At Lucky. The Awesome Again gelding enters off a great winning performance in the Lone Star Derby and trainer Bob Baffert  thinks he is in very good shape for a Belmont run.

Blue Grass Stakes winner Stately Victor and jockey Alan Garcia will be breaking from post number nine. After posting his visually impressive upset win in the Blue Grass Stately Victor finished a respectable eight in the Kentucky Derby slop. The son of Ghostzapper posted a very good five furlong work at Churchill Downs on May 25th before shipping in to Belmont and I have a feeling his Blue Grass wasn’t a fluke. If he has inherited any of his sire’s incredible talent then he should be able to run with the big guns here. I’d say a third place finish isn’t out of the question but won’t be surprised if he pulls another upset.

Stay Put and jockey Jamie Theriot take post number ten at odds of 20-1. He has won both of his allowance company races this year and finished fifth in both of his graded stakes attempts. His works leading up to the Belmont haven’t been particularly fast but they have been to the satisfaction of his connections. His form is great at this point and while he might be a colt on the improve he just doesn’t look like he’s in the same league as the top three, Ice Box, Fly Down and First Dude.

First Dude and jockey Ramon Dominguez break from post number eleven. After shocking the racing world with a gritty second place finish in the Preakness after setting murderous fractions on the front end, First Dude warrants more than a second look in the Belmont. He will have a much tougher job in the Belmont breaking from an outside post if he wants to take the lead but his stride is tremendous and with Belmont’s long stretch and sweeping turns it might not actually be that difficult for him to work his way to the front. The danger of a front runner in the Belmont is when they speed through early fractions and then come up empty in the stretch of the grueling 1 ½ mile test. First Dude is one big colt and looks like one of the fastest improving in the field but I think the distance will be too much for him if he tries to lead the whole way. I wouldn’t leave out of my top three pick for any reason though and I would love to see him steal the top prize.

Interactif and jockey Javier Castellano take post position twelve in the Belmont as the only starter for Kentucky Derby winning trainer Todd Pletcher. We last saw Interactif finishing fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes behind Stately Victor and prior to that he handed in a pair of second place finishes for remain winless so far this year. He was brilliant on the turf last year but the Triple Crown fever has apparently been too much for his connections and he finds himself entered in the Belmont. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race once before in 2007 when the talented filly Rags To Riches defeated dual Horse of the Year Curlin by a head. I think this is a very classy colt but I just don’t think he is as good on dirt as he is on turf.

Ice Box is a deserving favorite and if he gets a good pace to close into and changes leads properly I think it is his race to lose. Fly Down, First Dude and Stately Victory round out my top four choices with Dave In Dixie being my long shot choice.

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4 Responses to “The 142nd Belmont Stakes”

  1. The 142nd Belmont Stakes « Rail Runner…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. ICE BOX no doubt has a great chance, but 9-5 makes him too short to feel comfortable with considering he hasn’t changed leads in two straight races. Garcia on GAME ON DUDE is the key to the race…he’s the only entrant with enough speed to bother FIRST DUDE who’s a juicy 6-1. FLY DOWN/DROSSELMEYER/STATELY VICTOR top 3 but taking a 2nd look at FIRST DUDE at the price.

    Good luck…23 min. to post!

  3. Alyssa said

    Beautiful horse….

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