Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Archive for the ‘Golden Soul’ Category

Final Belmont Stakes Thoughts

Posted by Brian Appleton on June 7, 2013

Belmont Park is fit to serve a feast of spectacular cuisine this Saturday when the running of the 145th Belmont Stakes is preceded by a embarrassment of racing riches. Beginning with race #6, the Easy Goer Stakes and followed by the Grade 2 True North Handicap with defending champion Caixa Electronica as well as Justin Phillip and Fast Bullet, which is then followed by the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes, Grade 2 Woody Stevens Stakes and Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap. Finally racing fans will get to see the very talented Point of Entry return to the racetrack in the Manhattan Handicap after his disappointing defection from Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (Gr.1) at Churchill Downs on Derby day won by defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan. In addition the Just a Game Stakes features one of the best fields of the day with Hungry Island, Stephanie’s Kitten, Mizdirection and Centre Court all prepared to romp over the turf. But of course, the Belmont Stakes will take center stage as it should, and with a field of 13 colts and one filly entered there is little doubt in my mind that it will live up to its billing as the race of the day.

Orb has now lost his air of “invincibility” that followed him around so vigorously after the Kentucky Derby triumph and is now just one of the contestants out to prove he is the best. His record still speaks for itself, those four straight wins leading up to the Derby are just as impressive as they were before and with rain in the forecast I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that his chances in the Belmont could be enhanced a bit, especially if there’s a solid pace up front.

Revolutionary is a deserving second in the morning line favoritism. You have to love the way he always handles trouble and tough spots. For a better or a fan wishing for consistency in a horse Revolutionary fits the bill, he has hit the board in every one of his 7 lifetime starts and was on a three-race winning streak before finishing a good third in the Kentucky Derby. He’s got A.P. Indy as his grandsire on his Dam’s side and traces back to Mr. Prospector on his Sire’s side so stamina won’t be a problem. He looks like he’s got a great shot to win the Belmont Stakes, I just hope his 4 furlong works will have him ready to run the 1 ½ miles.

Freedom Child is looking a lot better in recent days to me. Apparently he’s been making quite the impression in his visits to the track at Belmont and coming off that fantastic 13 ¼ length romp in the Peter Pan Stakes (Gr.2) over a sealed sloppy track at Belmont, I’m thinking there are a lot of positives with this son of Malibu Moon. The only question he needs to answer is whether or not he can handle the step up in class, but the only time he ran against Derby caliber horses in the Wood Memorial (Gr.1) he was taken totally out of contention when the assistant starter didn’t release him as the gates opened. His :59.87 five furlong breeze at Belmont on May 27 was excellent.

Oxbow I’m not sure what to make of yet. I’m not sure if he’s the best fit for the 1 ½ mile distance but trainer D. Wayne Lukas is very pleased with his energy level since winning the Preakness Stakes which is always a good sign. I’m still picking against him, but I can easily see him finishing in the money.

Vyjack traces back to Affirmed and Storm Cat on his Sire’s side and Northern Dancer on his Dam’s side so there’s plenty of blue-blooded stamina in his pedigree, but somehow he just didn’t fire at all in the Kentucky Derby, fading to finish 18th. He was the forgotten horse heading in the Derby and it seems that once again he’s the forgotten horse, but I think it’s for good reason. I just can’t see him winning the Belmont right now unless he shows some drastic improvement.

Palace Malice being the son of Curlin makes him an instant favorite of mine so I really hope he can pull off a surprise and win the Belmont, but if not I hope he can produce a really good showing. It seems like he’s always running a good race and just missing out on the win. What more can I say? I’m a fan.

Unlimited Budget is a puzzle to me. I just don’t think she can win the Belmont, but she’s a very intriguing entrant and it wouldn’t come as a shock to see her run competitively. As a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense we at least know that she’s got stamina in her pedigree, now she’ll need to bring it to the track.

Golden Soul; I was pretty adamantly against him a few days ago, but with Belmont most likely being run in sloppy/wet conditions I think his chances improve a lot. His work was pretty strong and maybe the time off was what he needed to run a career best race.

Overall I’m still thinking Orb has the best shot to win, but Revolutionary, Palace Malice and Freedom Child are all up there for me.

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Posted in Belmont Park, Belmont Stakes, Freedom Child, Golden Soul, Orb, Oxbow, Palace Malice, Revolutionary, Unlimited Budget, Vyjack | Leave a Comment »

Here Comes the Belmont

Posted by Brian Appleton on June 4, 2013

It’s been a long time since I last posted here, but I’m finally back and ready to talk about the 2013 Belmont Stakes and more. This year has had its fair share of excitement this year and the prospect of Champions like Wise Dan and Royal Delta racing throughout the remainder of the year is exhilarating to say the least.

The 2013 Triple Crown season has given rise to two of the most thrilling and feel-good themes in decades. There seems to be redemption around every corner this year, from Orb becoming the first Kentucky Derby winner for beloved veteran trainer Shug McGaughey to the great Gary Stevens winning the Preakness aboard Oxbow just months into his comeback year. To sum up; this season has been the stuff of legend and fairy tales. Once again there will be no Triple Crown winner, which means fans have now endured a 35 year drought, but the initial disappointment can’t diminish the achievements and luster of how special the 2013 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes victories have been.

Now the attention has shifted to the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes; the Test of Champions. As with each running the foremost question surrounding each contender regards their ability to handle the 1 ½ mile distance and in most cases it’s the breeding that many turn to. This year’s edition seems to carry plenty of stamina in the family trees so I think the winning factors will come down to talent, class and experience.

The level of excitement that accompanies the running of the Belmont Stakes usually hinges on just two questions: Is there a horse with a shot at winning the Triple Crown? If not; Will there be a rematch between the Kentucky Derby winner and the Preakness winner? Fortunately for us racing fans we are almost assured a rematch between Orb and Oxbow this year. If that’s not enough to get you excited, try the return of the 2nd and 3rd place Derby runners as well as the 3rd place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks, add to that list a son of Curlin who set some of the fastest fractions in Derby history for the first ¾ of a mile as well as Overanalyze, Vyjack and about six others and you’ve got a field worthy of Grade 1 Classic status. The prospect of a filly running in an American classic is always a popular draw among fans and with Unlimited Budget and Rosie Napravnik confirmed to run there will be great appeal.

My sentimental favorite for the Belmont is Palace Malice. Anyone who knows me knows I’m just about the biggest Curlin fan in the world. I have Curlin mugs, hats, shirts, autographed pictures…the works. To see a son of Curlin running in the Classics this year has been thrilling to say the least. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with Mike Smith’s ride on Palace Malice in the Kentucky Derby, but that’s all in the past and it’s way easier to sit on the couch and yell instructions at the jockey thinking that they should have done this or that, but the actual race is riddled with unexpected factors that sometimes can’t be controlled. That being said I don’t know if Palace Malice is good enough to win the Belmont, but he shouldn’t have an issue with the distance if he’s anything like Curlin and I’d bet anything he’s in the best shape of his life after running those crazy fractions in the Derby, plus he’s posted three nice works at Belmont since the Derby. Another thing I like about him is the fact that the blinkers come off in the Belmont, like they should have been in the Derby.

Now on to the non-sentimental favorites. I still think Orb is at the top of this class for now, despite his inexplicably dull 4th place finish in the Preakness. He just didn’t seem to be himself at all on Preakness day. He looked spectacular in the paddock and post parade and had a great position down the backstretch, but just didn’t have that aggressive punch this time that usually carries him to the front. Trainer Shug McGaughey doesn’t appear too concerned that Orb will duplicate his Preakness performance in the Belmont and neither am I. He still looks like the class of the field to me right now.

Of the contenders most likely to win the Belmont other than Orb it looks like Revolutionary, Overanalyze, Oxbow, Frac Daddy, Unlimited Budget, Vyjavk and Golden Soul are the most logical candidates. Oxbow has proven to be very versatile with his running style and with the very experienced and savvy Gary Stevens scheduled to ride again I think he has a great chance to register another strong performance. For me though I won’t be picking him as a win candidate unless he looks exceptional during the warm-up.

Revolutionary is a horse after my own heart. It doesn’t seem to matter what gets thrown at this horse, he still manages to find his way into the winners circle or the top three. He dealt with terrible traffic woes in the Derby and still finished a strong 3rd so I’m betting he’ll be right in the thick of things at the Belmont finish and I’m also really curious to see what would happen if both he and Orb bring their best races to the table and get clear running room.

Overanalyze has won the Arkansas Derby, Remsen and Futurity Stakes so we know he’s very classy, but his 11th place finish in the Derby was less than stellar. Perhaps it was the sloppy track or the traffic, but either way I’m inclined to think he has what it takes to compete with the Belmont field. He already defeated Oxbow and Frac Daddy so if he likes the 1 ½ miles we could be in for a year with 3 separate Classic winners. Vyjack seems to be a very good horse, but I think he might be just a little bit behind the likes of Orb and Oxbow.

Unlimited Budget is an exciting Belmont contender not just because she’s a filly with the nation’s hottest female jockey slated to ride her, but because she’s very, very good. I was a little bit disappointed with her performance in the Kentucky Oaks though. From a visual standpoint she didn’t make up a whole lot of ground in the home stretch and it’s going to be a whole lot longer in the Belmont homestretch. For me I’m not sure she’s ready to beat the top boys, but she’s definitely coming into this race in tiptop shape as her bullet :47.55 breeze at Belmont Sunday proves. It will be the first time since Rags to Riches won the Belmont over Curlin in 2007 that a filly enters the Belmont Stakes starting gate.

Golden Soul is a very questionable contender for me. Trainer Dallas Stewart kept the Perfect Soul colt out of the Preakness Stakes after the colt’s runner-up effort in the Derby left him more worn-out than expected. He returned to post a strong 1:00.40 five furlong work at Churchill Downs last Thursday, but I think he’s a toss for me. Frac Daddy is training very well, but I don’t think he’s ready to beat the likes of Orb, Revolutionary or Oxbow right now.

In just five days a new Belmont Stakes champion will be crowned. Will Orb or Oxbow add a second Classic trophy to their mantle or will history be made by the performance of another talented runner? I eagerly await the results.

Posted in Always in a Tiz, Belmont Stakes, Frac Daddy, Freedom Child, Giant Finish, Golden Soul, Incognito, Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, Orb, Overanalyze, Oxbow, Palace Malice, Preakness Stakes, Revolutionary, Triple Crown, Unlimited Budget, Vyjack, Will Take Charge | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

 
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