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The Belmont Stakes

The American Triple Crown concludes this weekend at Belmont without the huge draw of a horse going for the set. On the other hand, that can be a positive for punters as it's a proper race rather than finding half the field ducking the latest equine star who would soon be sent off to the breeding barn to print money for his owners.

Regular US racing contributor Jon da Silva, @creamontop is back to pull the field apart and share his wisdom....

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The Belmont Stakes

The final leg of the US Triple Crown is The Belmont stakes at Belmont in Elmont New York State. 1 mile 4 furlongs on dirt is a rare distance hence it's not a race that is easy to read or handicap. This year has more competitive horses than last with the winners of the [Kentucky] Derby and Preakness turning up not to mention the Derby second and third who ducked the Preakness.

As with the other two races of the Triple Crown pace will make the race. The track is currently wet [sloppy] but the year I went Friday was abandoned in a monsoon and the track rode Ok the next day. Hard to handicap for a wet track since some horses may never have run on a wet track before and many of those who have will be sample of one if they ran badly. Last year the horses who had been 1,2 in both the first two legs did not race here or ever again - indeed Union Rags did not run again either. I won't go all trends on that but you may prefer to give a plus to fresh horses.

Prices quoted best British odds.

In Draw Order

Frac Daddy. Seems to have gone backwards. No obvious late stamina suggesting moves. Arkansas Derby finished in slow mo and he was nearly 5 lengths off Overanalyze. Well beaten by Orb in Florida. There seems no angle to suggest a big run is on the cards. 33/1 not for me on form.

Freedom Child. Led all the way in a Peter Pan romp over a sloppy Belmont and won 13 lengths. So certainly one for the course and wet track angle. Destroyed in the Wood after missing the break where Vyjack was 3rd. Previous win when leading all the way. Split Orb and Revolutionary in a 2yo 1 mile Maiden at Aquaduct (that was some maiden). Not forlorn as he has the joint highest Brisnet pace rating here and Preakness winner Oxbow's Gary Stevens may relent given the distance. Thus we have a seeming need to lead horse stepping up three furlongs into a bigger field. He has a price but for me it's not 8s or less.

Overanalyze according to Trakus possibly the one unlucky horse in the Kentucky Derby as he may have had a troubled trip. Finished well that day (5th fastest final furlong) which one could see as a hint at stamina but 13 back with half the field dead at the turn - says little to me. His Arkansas Derby win does not appear to be very fast or grand form then again Oxbow was fifth. 16s fair enough with mixed messages and I fancied him at Churchill.

Giant Finish is kind of badly named as he's a pace sort. One place in front of Overanalyze in the Derby. Does not fold totally on not getting the lead. Distance maybe an issue. Hard to read as prepped for the Derby on Synthetics. 50/1 I like as his Derby run not out of place with horses who are shorter.

Orb the late runner who swooped around the field in the Derby. Installed as favourite as the narrative is he had deep inside ground and was drawn inside in the Preakness where he encountered no pace. Many including Timeform's Simon Rowlands have poo-pooed the idea that the Preakness was slowly run as times at Pimlico were all slow that weekend - Oxbow has the best speed figure in the field as a result of that race. Also Mylute closed well enough into supposed slow fractions. I don't rule Orb out but if you take the view rather than being unfavoured he stepped back last time then 7/2 seems shy. He may have the best form in the race but that was true of the Preakness and he was 4th. Also the assumption seems to be his late running style is necessarily stamina induced again an assumption I would not make at this price in a 14 runner classic off two hard races in five weeks. Drawn five of 14 so whilst better than Preakness if you believe he needs to be wide not ideal.

Incognito six starts two wins like Freedom Child and Giant Finish. Incognito finishing 15 lengths behind Freedom Child in the Peter Pan - on the slop. Main vestige of hope is he is relatively fresh that bad defeat was on a sloppy track. However had only previously won a maiden (4th attempt) and a $25K Optional Claimer for non winners of one i.e. is for non-winners of a race other than a maiden or claiming race. 25s taken so obviously others see something. 20/1

Oxbow presumed by many to have stolen the Preakness as Gary Stevens 'walked the dog' on the front. However as said about Orb good judges dispute this and it gives him the best speed rating here. Last 2 wins have been when leading at the 1st call including the 13 length striping of Golden Soul 2nd in the Derby back in January. He did run on in the Derby without the lead. 13/2 Fairly Priced as last time could well have been an improving horse again though this is his third run in five weeks and after 11 starts maybe we can't get too carried away. Could drift to a value price like 8s.

Midnight Taboo comes here for his fourth start. Steps up in distance 3.5 furlongs (700m) having won a maiden. 33/1 you're welcome to it. Pletcher who has five's pace spoiler?

Revolutionary game tough a street fighter maybe what one wants for this test. Fresher than Oxbow and Orb but will probably have to pass all 13 rivals to win. 5s seems fair enough.

Will Take Charge appears not to. Does have an argument over Oxbow but so did most of the Preakness field. No showed in the Preakness. Has bumped brushed traffic checked in his form which you could see as bad luck. You can also see a longer race slower pace more spread out as giving habitual unlucky horses more scope. Brisnet distance score is high. 25/1 More proven than some at this price but maybe more exposed and his Preakness was horrible.

Vyjack four wins leading into the Wood where he was third narrowly pipped by Normandy Invasion who might be second fav here if running. Brutal 18th of 19 in the Kentucky Derby. Does not give me that vibe he will love the distance or big field here. It's only an impression and 33s would have seemed large two months ago.

Palace Malice has run between 93 and 102 on Brisnet speed ratings on all starts which is pretty consistent - his only win in a maiden with his slowest speed rating. He was largely responsible for the suicide pace in the Kentucky Derby. I just can't see any angle he wins bar everything lets him go. Best form on synths and well behind Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby. Sure another who if he's running free after two furlongs you might want 14s but with four or five likely leaders not for me.

Unlimited Budget the filly to give us something to talk about. Steps up three furlongs faces colts and did not win the Kentucky Oaks even with the favourite taken out. 12s seems about right. Four wins from five starts.

Golden Soul came close to being a 'skinner' in the Kentucky Derby. Got a lovely trip into second at Churchill Downs and much longer price than the two close to him that day. Draws wide here. Tempting but given the traffic and carnage at Churchill can't help feeling he got a great trip. Previously done by Oxbow & Revolutionary. 10/1

Conclusion

Freedom Child and Orb will be Wet track positives from their last wins. I suspect Orb will be shorter than the current UK price of 7/2 as he seems positively perceived and any rain will be seen as a positive for him. Obviously anything that grabs an easy lead will have an advantage but I see four or five here who want to press the pace - mind I saw three in the Preakness and Oxbow led them all. Oxbow could drift given the impression he was lucky last time. I personally expect Revolutionary to be most likely to run his race of the principals/closers. This is an intriguingly poised race with so many angles involving redemptions, two very differently run classics leading in here, two classic winners, unexposed horses, freshness, pace, five Pletcher horses etc with no obvious ricks to me

I'll have a shekel on Giant Finish at 50s who may still be unexposed on dirt.

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