It has been three weeks since Exaggerator upset Nyquist down in Baltimore. Nyquist is out after having come down with a fever just after the Preakness. Did this affect his performance on that rainy day in Baltimore or was it the decision to chase the early pace that did him in? Maybe a little bit of both. Regardless of my inability to put the winning horse on top, I know some of my friends who actually read this blog did manage to make a few bucks on the Preakness as Cherry Wine got up to add some value. Let’s all make a few bucks on the Belmont Stakes this year too!
Fast forward to today and we have a weather forecast that appears less threatening as we head into the weekend. It looks like mid to upper 70’s with a chance of rain and storms in the afternoon and evening which should not affect the running surface at Big Sandy. There are plenty of new faces to square off against the lone two entrants to make all three legs of the Triple Crown – Exaggerator and Lani.
Saturday June 11, 2016
Belmont – Race 11
1-1/2 miles - Dirt – Belmont Stakes G1
10 Lani (20-1) – This colt intrigues me. He is out of Tapit who sired Tonalist who won the 2014 edition of this race defeating California Chrome. His two US starts have been busts, but there is something I like about this one. His Preakness effort made me think of my own son Charlie and how he plays soccer on Saturday mornings. He hangs back on defense for most of the game, playing a sound fundamental game, but somewhere in the last ten minutes things change. Out of nowhere, he gets the ball, fakes a pass, and starts dribbling up the field passing opponents until he finds himself in position to take a shot. Lani sat back at the Preakness and much like I predicted in my pace analysis was not much of a factor through the second call. Then something happened. Just like Charlie deciding to take the ball up, Lani started making a nice move closing to within five lengths at the wire with what seemed like some gas in the tank. Rumor is that the Belmont surface is just like what he liked racing over in Japan. I think he comes to run today.
13 Creator (10-1) – This is the other Tapit colt in this race who also possesses a big late move. I remember watching his Arkansas Derby effort and thinking that if he could just catch another weak early pace he would have a shot. This is his chance here. I like the switch to the local rider in Irad Ortiz who is one of the better jocks on the NY circuit. It could be close between him and Lani late in this race. Assmussen’s other entry here, 6 Gettysburg (30-1) looks to play the part of the rabbit here to set the pace up for a closer – just like in the Arkansas Derby.
11 Exaggerator (9-5) – He is a deserving favorite and I expect to see the same tactics he employed in the Preakness here again. This son of Curlin is bread for distance, but I think he hits the wall in the stretch.
4 Suddenbreakingnews (10-1) – This son of Mineshaft leaves me scratching my head. Thought to be a gelding, but later determined to be a ridgling. Does this make a big difference? It sure does to him I suppose, but with increased testosterone levels of late and being a bit of a late developer I think we have not seen his best work yet. His pedigree suggests he can likely go the distance.
Spoilers in the bottom of your exotics:
2 Destin (6-1) – Should show some great improvement off of a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby and the Tampa Bay Derby, but his pedigree is a little suspect for 12 furlongs today.
3 Cherry Wine (8-1) – He looks a little short on distance and when the others make a big late move he’ll be trying his best, but will fall short.
5 Stradivari (5-1) – Doesn’t look likely to get the distance but should be close to the front of the field early and may have enough in the tank to fend off a few of the late runners.
Most Likely Pace Scenario: Weak Early Speed – Closers
6 Gettysburg (30-1) is Assmussen’s rabbit in this race. This one dimensional front runner will get on the lead early, just like he did in the Arkansas Derby. I expect 2 Destin (6-1) and 5 Stradivari (5-1) to stay with him early and apply some pressure. 1 Governor Malibu (12-1) and 11 Exaggerator will be a few lengths off of the leaders early. 7 Seeking the Soul (30-1) will be a bit of a wild card here, never having tried two turns and is most likely to be set with this group early. The balance of the field will be towards the rear early.
As Gettysburg falters between six furlongs and mile, the closers start to make their move on the early pressers. While I think Exaggerator will be game to the stretch, I think he finds his limit in distance and Lani and Creator get past him at the wire.
In other pace scenarios, there is a relaxed early pace, although still set by the same horse. This would benefit Exaggerator and Destin more than the pack of closers.
If time permits, I will try to get some graphics up on my youtube channel.
How would I play this race?
Potential for Value: High
I would consider playing my top four in boxes – exactas, trifectas, and superfectas. I may play around with the trifecta or superfecta putting the top three choices on top and adding in Destin and Cherry Wine underneath.
So grab a Belmont Breeze (bourbon, sherry, orange, cranberry, and mint) and enjoy the race!