Saturday, 11 June 2016

Belmont Stakes preview

After the Nyquist bubble burst in the slop at Pimlico, the Triple Crown dream is over until next year but we still have Exaggerator going for two of the three. Regular US racing correspondent Jon da Silva, @creamontop, chimes in with his unique assessment.

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Belmont Stakes
Grade 1, 12 Furlongs, Dirt
US$1,500,000
1837 local, 2337 BST


They don't run many races this far in America. However if you've seen the no longer run Breeder's Cup Marathon you'll be aware dirt and distance racing is a bit like a pint of Carling at a CAMRA meeting.

Note Kentucky Derby (KD) and Preakness (Pr)

Exaggerator KD 2nd Pr 1st
This year one horse comes in just Nyquist from trying for a Triple Crown. Exaggerator is clearly the best here and running three top class races in six weeks is possible notwithstanding the gap in Triple Crown Winners of 35 years very possible. Unlike the Pharoah Exaggerator is a closer. He won't get the easy lead here whereby after a hard 1st call American Pharoah could relax through the rest of the race unchallenged. His odds have drifted to 7/4 even though more speed has been injected with the addition of Gettysburg which will help but the race is an outlier off an outlier of a schedule for thoroughbreds. I'd want longer say 9/4 or 5/2. He was well suited to the slop at Pimlico in the Preakness and was well ridden there too. It was also a race that favoured closers. The Derby proves a dry track no problem to him but Belmont is also different again - known as Big Sandy. Belmont is also a larger track than the others. Opposable at the prices. With 6 Beyers over 100 he towers over these in that respect.

Suddenbreakingnews KD 5th
This one probably stays longer than a wine stain. This type don't have a great record here as the pace is slow. Keen Ice beat the Pharoah over 10F after a burn up but here could not lay a glove on him or Frosted. Again whilst of the stone closers this one probably has the second best profile for distance he is one of many with a similar run style and has been beaten by Creator. Also think UK price owes something to EW betting M/L 10s v 6s. Probably a lock for the Superfecta underneath.

Stradivari Pr 4th
Entered the Triple Crown last time and a creditable fourth start in fourth. Not on the suicide pace but not off it either. Arguably a fair effort. Has a chance to get a good stalking trip here with four pace options. Has two of those four inside him. Preakness running line was not a perfect trip either - Rank Early Carried 6W. Inexperienced horse who could improve and is ball park even on that run.

Cherry Wine Pr 2nd
Closer who loved the Sloppy ground Preakness. Nothing else says he is particularly close. A contender among many closers with similar qualifications.

Brody's Cause KD 7th
Checked run in the Derby but beat Cherry Wine in the Bluegrass. Third in the Breeders Cup Juvenile to Nyquist. 12s UK bookies but M/L is 20s. Closer.

Destin KD 6th
Been bumped last twice and likely to be in a contested rating position or for the lead here if Gettysburg does not fly. 6/1 M/L but 10s available with UK books. Won Tampa Bay Derby and whilst plateaued Beyers since not had clean trips. Rested after a decent but unspectacular Derby. Has the right run style for me.

Lani KD 9th Pr 5th
Comes out of the gate like Zenyatta and takes forever to warm up. A stone closer who will likely come into his own here. Again Euro way of looking has him at 14s but M/L 20s.

Creator KD 13th
Abysmal performance at Churchill showing nothing. Prior had come from 5 behind Suddenbreakingnews to be clear winner of the Arkansas Derby. Has 1 huge move and probably only Exaggerator has a bigger one here - I fear a more sustained galloper is needed personally. Brisnet give high marks for distance. Connections Winstar Farms think enough of him to add pace in Gettysburg so must consider Derby a throw out. M/L 10 but 20s in UK. Unusual for a closer here better UK value.

Governor Malibu N/A
New shooter. Draws 1 and could be checked out by Pletcher duo Destin in 2 and Stradivari in 5. Probably the only one whose draw worth noting. Second in the Peter Pan finishing well behind an improving sort. M/L 12s gives positive to his chances v UK odds. Paynter and Tonalist have used Peter Pan to finish 2nd and 1st here but they won it and won it well. 20s UK Books.

Forever Doro N/A
New Shooter. Broke his maiden by a nose on his third start. This will be his fourth. Needs leaps of faith and whilst his type have run well this is not a weak race with only two or three jaded horses turning up. Trainer 6% in graded races and he has less chance than that.

Trojan Nation KD 16th
His KD was terrible and the form of his 2nd in Wood not bet compelling. Possibly over priced at 50s but only one of his six runs even makes this entry less than frivolous and a 96 Beyer staying on offers scantiest of hope. His Wood merely reflecting irrelevance of East coast colts?

Gettysburg N/A
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address should be as much trumpeted for its brevity as its depth and don't expect this Gettysburg to hang around whether he'll be remembered in a 150 years is doubtful. This colt is here purely to poke the pace that could have been a Pletcher benefit with Stradivari and Destin choking out Governor Malibu. Sadly Creator's owners pulled the FU. Entering here and transferred Gettysburg to Asmussen from Pletcher to prevent Todd and Destin and Stradivari making sweet music together. Could he now suck the field into a speed battle to set up Creator or any of the 8 closers? Will they let him go? 66s probably is not awful about speed of speed but one senses he is not expected to win. Well beaten dropped in class from Arkansas Derby fifth where he set the race up for Creator.

Seeking the Soul N/A
Had three runs and broke maiden. Decent Beyers but never run beyond a mile and not especially stoutly bred according to Brisnet.

Summary
Plenty of Arbs likely between UK prices and US. Main difference appears to be US punters discount the plodders more even over 12 furlongs. The race has many closers and two of them dour stayers (Suddenbreakingnews and Lani) and with Exaggerator short I find it hard to call between them. However with UK bookies the value is with pacier horses - Creator excepted. Given there is a possibility of it becoming a slog and just for sight of him as he comes from the clouds passed every horse and is Japanese love to see Lani win.

The Gettysburg Addition has muddied the waters on pace. At UK odds I would chance one of the Pletcher duo both longer than their M/L odds in Stradivari or Destin - Gov Malibu is also longer if you prefer fresh meat. Gettysburg could merely give them a nice tow as much as drag them through unsustainable fractions.

If you back a closer or frontrunner I would opine without an on the day track figure a tipping point around 48.8 seconds in UK parlance between nice pace for front runners and too fast for them.