Thursday, June 9, 2011

Down The Stretch

We've had two incredibly exciting Finals series in both the NBA and the NHL this year (I can't remember the last time that both Finals were must-see events for me every night!), so sports fans can certainly be forgiven if they've forgotten that the third jewel of the Triple Crown is coming up this Saturday at the Belmont Stakes.

At first, this year's Belmont was shaping up to be another meaningless edition with no horse having a chance to complete Triple Crown, but the field actually has turned out to be pretty compelling. Kudos to this crop of owners and trainers for taking a chance and bucking the recent trend of extreme caution towards racing horses multiple times during the Triple Crown season.

The rubber match between Animal Kingdom and Shackleford is the top storyline, but having the top 7 from the Derby back for the race is compelling as well given that it's a historical first. It should be an excellent race with the potential birth of a true rivalry, but as you'll see from my picks, my guess is that we'll have a new winner in this one.

Here's a rundown of the field:


6 - Nehro (4-1): Had a nice run in the Derby to finish 2nd, seems to have drawn a good post position, and should be well-rested
9 - Animal Kingdom (2-1): He's the favorite for a reason, and the extra distance could be key if he's charging hard at the wire
10 - Mucho Macho Man (10-1): Experts seem to think the extra distance will be an issue, but I'm going off of feeling on this one - bad luck (i.e. lost shoe) was his downfall in the Preakness, so if things go right this time, maybe he can take the race? Jockey change is a little concerning as well, but Dominguez is as solid as they come
12 - Shackleford (9-2): Really proved himself in the Preakness, so you can't count him out


1 - Master of Hounds (10-1): Ran well at the Derby, but will the trips back and forth to England take a toll?
4 - Santiva (15-1): Another one who had a strong run at the Derby, and should be well rested
5 - Brilliant Speed (15-1): The last of the strong Derby runners, has the pedigree for the extra distance
11 - Isn't He Perfect (30-1): Another one where I'm going with my gut - ran poorly at the Preakness, so it's kind of strange that the connections decided to run so soon again...maybe they know something we don't?

Stay Aways
2 - Stay Thirsty (20-1): Struggled in the Derby and prior races, but could have home track advantage?
3 - Ruler on Ice (20-1): Hasn't won a stakes race, probably outmatched
7 - Monzon (30-1): Strong pedigree, but no results to back it up
8 - Prime Cut (15-1): Another new runner, late decision to enter indicates concern/hesitancy?

With a smaller field, I think I would concentrate my bets a bit and hope for a big payday (consider at your own risk!!):

$6 Win - 10 (Mucho Macho Man) <-- should be an excellent payout if he finally runs his best
$2 Show - 11 (Isn't He Perfect)
$2 Exacta Box - 9, 10, 12 (Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford)
$1 Exacta Box - 6, 9, 10 (Nehro, Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man)
$0.10 Superfecta Box - 6, 9, 10, 12

Total Bets: $28.40


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