The 134th Belmont Stakes
War Emblem attempts 12th Triple Crown in the 10th @ Belmont--All carry 126
My Preakness Tickets
2. Like A Hero...Day...Pat has really had a rough go of it on this Triple Crown trail. Though LAH has had three wins in a row, it'd be a stretch to say he really belongs here. The breeding is fine, but the base is lacking for now. No experience at 2 and his 5th race this year. Pincay didn't even make the trip. He's got a lot of room for improvement, but not here--not today.
3. Wiseman's Ferry...Chavez...Here's one of the most talked about this week. Not because he can win, but because of the early pressure he'll put on War Emblem. And while he can certainly hang up the type of fractions that should be on or near the lead here, he did post his best numbers on a couple of speed favoring tracks, including slop at Keeneland. No wonder he drew off by five! He'll not have an easy time of it this time though. In addition to his inadequate distance breeding, this is only his 4th career race with no 2 year-old foundation. I totally respect O'Callahan and consider him one of the best in the country. This might be a bit of a tall order. Could he hang around for exotics? Possibly. But I would guess no better than 4th.
4. Essence Of Dubai...Bailey...These pesky Godolphin horses! It seems all they are around for is to mess up my exotic betting. He should be recovered from his UAE Derby score, but the work on Tuesday suggests otherwise. He did work better when first arriving here. Breeding doesn't seem to be an obstacle, and his figs suggest an improvement here. Still, it's an iffy proposition at best. All Bailey does is insure he'll be overbet. Yak!
5. Sunday Break...Stevens...Ran his eyeballs out in the Wood, and though he reacted in the Peter Pan, he still won. It's likely the Wood was his ceiling and thus the reaction. Now which way does he go? A repeat of the Wood effort would likely win it. Even an improvement towards it would put him in the exotics. Trouble is, he's just as likely to pair-up or regress. Add distance questions and he's plenty troubling.
6. Perfect Drift...Delahoussaye...I loved him in the Derby, and despite an eventful stretch run he still came through and finished 3rd. No race between now and then which seems a negative, though the plodder Commendable was able to come in and pull it off 2 years ago. This one could beat Commendable with 1 leg tied behind his back. Distance shouldn't be a problem. He's had 16 furlongs of work since the Derby, all pretty much to form. Only problem though is it seems as though everyone and their brother likes him. We saw what that meant to Saarland's odds. I'm assuming he'll be an underlay here.
8. Medaglia D'oro...Desormeaux...I should have tossed him completely in the Preakness. If I had, I might have elevated Magic Weisner into the place spot on my super ticket paying me a phat $6700! I had to settle for 1/2 of the tri, in which I did toss him. Frankel wasn't going to run him, but he worked okay and he decided to take a shot. Not the way you want to see it done. Decent work on Saturday so he could begin to circle back. My guess is he needs a break though. I'll leave him off here, though I'm less sure than I was 3 weeks ago.
9. Proud Citizen...Smith...Do we believe the Smith/Lukas mantra that the trip was the only problem in Baltimore? It's a Triple Crown race isn't it? You can't trust Lukas not to have him ready. We've seen the results when this happens. I like him a lot here, especially in exotics. I'll probably even use him on top to an extent. I'm hopeful I can get 7-1 again. It might be a stretch.
10. War Emblem...Espinoza...Believe it or not, I actually considered a Derby Future on this guy in early March. But in my wisdom, I chose Easyfromthegitgo instead. I'm good! He's had four tough efforts in a row, and this time he doesn't get garden spot for post position. His race in the Derby sits as his career best. It's doubtful he'll get back to that effort today, and he'll probably regress a bit more. He certainly has a shot at the crown. As a betting prospect though he is a huge underlay. Does Baffert get second again?
11. Magic Weisner...Migliore...Here's my boy! The key to the nice Preakness score. As I said earlier, it pains me that I didn't toss Medaglia with abandon last time. That MIGHT have led to my bringing home a cool $7800 for less than a Franklin invested. If, if, if. I don't think he's set up as well here and breeding doesn't suggest this is within reach. Still, I owe him. I'll toss him in on the bottom of a couple of tickets just in case the "Magic" is still at work.
12. Sarava...Prado...What irony would this be seeing that McPeek had a bunch yanked from him this week, including Harlan's Holiday! He broke through his 2 year-old top first out this year, then paired it, then moved back a bit. I don't know if he explodes here or regresses more. Might be worth a flyer in exotics as his odds should be hefty.
I can't seem to get past the fact that Perfect Drift has the least amount of negative factors heading into this race. I have to use on top.
Yes, War Emblem is a damned nice horse. He could do it. And the way things are stacked against him, I'll consider him a worthy crown holder should he do it.
I love Magic Weisner and I would also love to see him picking up the pieces at the end. Score one for the little guy! If the pace is hot, he'll come knocking. How many doors will open?
I'm not a BIG fan of Proud Citizen, at least not yet. But he could make a statement here.
1. Perfect Drift
2. War Emblem
3. Magic Weisner
4. Proud Citizen
5. Sunday Break
Best of luck. I'll have pics from this up within a few days.
© 2002 bBra