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Friday, June 08, 2007

Watching the Belmont

- So yeah, I know, I've written about some of the undercard, but haven't done picks for the Belmont itself. And actually, I'm going to wimp out a bit here. Most races are made for betting, but some are made to just (mostly) watch, and the Belmont is the latter to me. None of the outsiders seem attractive to me, and neither of the horses I think will run well, Curlin and Rags to Riches, will be worth much on the board.

Tiago is getting some attention, but when a gallop-out is given as one of the main reasons, I get skeptical. Imawildandcrazyguy had that nice rally for 4th in the Derby, but there doesn't seem much in his pedigree to indicate that he's going to thrive at a mile and a half; for one thing, his dosage index is 6.0. C P West seems to be a bit of a wise guy horse, as both Crist and Beyer have him finishing in the money. But the two times he's gone around two turns are the two times he's finished out of the money. So I'm not feeling confident that he wants this distance. Slew's Tizzy has shown nice improvement, but doesn't appear to be in this class.

I don't like Hard Spun. I don't feel like repeating why, so I'll let James Quinn, writing in the DRF Plus section of the Form, speak for me:

He finished the final quarter of the Kentucky Derby in 25.58 seconds, and notwithstanding the overrated run on the front to the mile call (1:11.13 and 1:37.04), his finishing fraction is not especially encouraging for the New York marathon. If handicappers agree that Street Sense, Curlin, and Hard Spun deserve to be recognized as leading colts, it does not follow necessarily than one of the three should win the Belmont Stakes.

In the Preakness, Hard Spun moved too hurriedly into a fast six-furlong pace of 1:09.80, and he completed the fraction between four furlongs and six furlongs in 23.00. But he completed the final 3 1/2 furlongs in a sluggish 45.36 (42.00 would represent the standard 12 seconds a furlong), which does not translate readily to drawing off in the Belmont Stakes. Worse, Hard Spun had been nudged from the lead by Street Sense and Curlin prior to the eighth pole.
He then goes on to deride those who feel that he can set a slow pace and gallop away as "trapped in the web of conventional wisdom," but here at Left at the Gate, we like to have more respect for those who disagree, so I'll just move on without further elaboration.

Mike and the Mad Dog, the top drive-time sports talk guys here, did their show from Belmont on Friday, and the word was that Curlin looks fantastic. Trainer John Parisella raved about the Preakness winner, and Charles Hayward said that he's heard from everyone that the horse looks great, for whatever that's worth. When you think about his Preakness, he broke bad, blew the final turn, failed to change leads, and came back after conceding a clear lead to Street Sense. One would think that the wider Belmont turns will be kinder to him. True, there is no guarantee he'll get the distance, and we've certainly seen some anxious jockeys expend too much too soon. But he seems to be the goods, and I think it's his race to lose.

Rags to Riches is not getting as much support amongst the pundits as I thought she would. She's hasn't been beating the best crop of fillies, and her top Beyer is 104, as pointed out by some of her detractors. But I think that number showed the type of progression that suggests she can make a significant step forward at a distance that she should absolutely love. However, I still think she's going to be the second choice in the race.

So, I'll have Curlin and the filly in any Pick 3/4 tickets I may have. But when they play Sidewalks of New York and proceed to the post, I'll just be sitting back in anticipation of just watching (unless, of course, I'm alive in the Pick 4) what will hopefully be a monumental Belmont, whether a dominant performance by Curlin, a crowd-pleasing triumph by the filly, or, unlikely in my opinion, a memorable surprise from one of the supporting players. (If I'm not tapped out after six and a half hours at the track anyway).

5 Comments:

Anonymous said...

I am doubting G2R, and it has nothing to do with being a filly but rather to objective handicapping.

1.) She never ran fast until her last, over a muddy track. Could the big move forward been due to the moisture? Her 434 Wet Tomlinson indicates it is possible.
2.) I am very suspicious of her race schedule. Why did TP base her in CAL? When was the last time one of his best prospects was based out west? Could it possibly be the lax medication rules?
3.) The distance. Unlike the others, she is attempting to stretch from 9f to 12f. While she is bred to handle the increase, is she ready? There might be a very good reason that most Belmont winners have run in the Derby, the foundation it provides.
4.) The competition. Not one of the eight fillies to place or show behind her 4 wins has won another race.
5.) I almost hate to mention it, but the connections have not won a Classic.

I am trying Tiago, who admittedly also prepped in CA, but is a Grade One winning colt that was making a move until Smith hesitated and gave the opening to Street Sense in the Derby. By the time he got there the hole had closed.

Like it or not, his gallop out WAS impressive and does mean something after running 10f in 2:04. Smith should have clear sailing, and if the race falls apart up front, which happens more than not in this race, he will be the one making the late run at Curly.

CP West, while not bred for the distance, seems to be on improve and has the best race over the track and big race trainer/jock combo. Should not be ignored.

2-3/2-3/467.

Good luck to all, Mr. Ed

Jeff said...

Curlin will have a bounce after a monster performance but does it matter? There is no Birdstone in this race. Hard Spun had a slight bounce in the Preakness and still lit the board. He's holding up well and I expect him to light again.

1. Curlin
2. Hard Spun
3. Imawildandcrazyguy
4. Tiago

The filly finished dead last.

Cookie Jill said...

Filly Power! ;-)

Anonymous said...

It's "New York, New York" now instead of "Sidewalks of New York."

Which sucks.

Anonymous said...

I apologize to fillies everywhere, I doubted her and paid the price. Should have taken the 4-1 and run to the bank.

And since I loved Tiago (who got another indecisive ride from Mr. Smith, not that it probably mattered, look at the chart comments, how do you get in this much trouble in a 7 horse field?) SHOULD have nailed the trifecta.

Mr. Ed