- Hard Spun still seems to have a lot of support; after all, he's been in the money for both the Derby and Preakness despite having pace issues in each race. James Scully of Brisnet sums up the prevailing reasoning of why he should not be dismissed in the Belmont.
The pace will be slower, with Hard Spun the probable lone speed, and he's got the pedigree to run all day as a son of Danzig out of a 1 1/2-mile stakes-winning dam. Bold Forbes regressed off a front-running performance in the Derby, finishing third by four lengths at Pimlico after dueling through a wicked pace battle (like Hard Spun), but he returned three weeks later with a wire-to-wire victory in the 1976 "Test of Champions." Commendable, Touch Gold, Thunder Gulch, Tabasco Cat, Hansel, Bet Twice, Danzig Connection, Swale, Conquistador Cielo, Affirmed and Seattle Slew have all utilized their speed en route to capturing the Belmont since then. [Brisnet]Of course, Bold Forbes had Angel Cordero to somehow nurse his speed and just barely get him home; and he was trained by Laz Barrero, who would win the Triple Crown with Affirmed two years later. Here's a somewhat grainy video of Bold Forbes' Belmont win, with Dave Johnson at the mike.
Tiago worked three furlongs at Hollywood, a shorter distance than he usually drills for John Sherriffs, who said that it "was a work preparing him for his next work." [DRF] If he does indeed continue on to the Belmont, his gallop-out after the Derby will be become one of the most discussed and analyzed in recent history. I think he's an interesting entry who has an outside shot with the right pace; the win by Jazil last year may cause some of us to re-evaluate the common wisdom that dead closers don't win the Belmont (and look how far back Great Contractor and McKenzie Bridge were in '76). But I don't think he'll present much value on Belmont day.
If there really was a commissioner of racing, he or she would certainly be working on getting Street Sense and Rags to Riches to come, and we might end up with a Belmont that serves as a true grand finale to the series instead of the reflexive anti-climax that it seems to have become when the Derby winner doesn't win the Preakness.
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