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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Belmont Notes

Fairway Drive ($7) was another winner, in the 4th at Belmont on Wednesday, for the sharp Carlos Martin barn; now nine winners from 28 starters at the meet. The six-year old gelded son of Western Expression (a full brother to the graded winner I Lost My Choo) was moving up in class to 25K from 20K, coming off a career high Beyer running at his lowest claiming level ever in his 31st career start; and won by a measured neck under a confident Ramon Dominguez, now nine for his last 20 for Martin.

This horse has some interesting breeding, inbred as he is to Ribot (5x3), Buckpasser (4x5), Somethingroyal (through Secretariat and Sir Gaylord (5x5); and, most unusually, Majestic Prince (4x4). 1969 was a few years before my racing time, so I don't remember when Majestic Prince came to the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the Triple Crown, and do so undefeated. Fortunately (though not for you Fred Caposella fans), Harvey Pack tells the whole story during this video of the race. (Check out Arts and Letters, the #2 horse and eventual winner, jumping a tire track shortly after the start.)

Did you hear Harvey say that, with the closer Dike in the lead, the first six furlongs went 1:16 and the second 1:12?? Wow, they just don't run the Belmont like that anymore. Going back to 1999, only one Belmont even came close to having the second half of the race go faster than the first. In 2007, CP West and Slew's Tizzy crawled to the three-quarters in 1:15 1/5 (as Garrett Gomez sat in 4th with Hard Spun); so when Curlin and Rags to Riches took over, they were fresh in the stretch, getting the final quarter in 23 3/4, the only sub-24 second final quarter of the decade. What a race - that's the way I'd always want to see the Belmont run, but these horses just don't have the stamina these days it seems. I imagine that they'll get to the halfway point in around 1:12 to 1:13 or so on Saturday, and in the neighborhood of 1:16 coming home; and I think they'll be some surprises coming along in the last 26 or 27 seconds so as they run the final quarter.

- That 2007 Belmont is always worth a look.


El Angelo said...

To repeat what a lot of people (such as Crist) say: let's move on from the Belmont itself. There are 5 other very interesting stakes races and some tough allowance races on the undercard, and decent amount of free money in the pool. Better questions than the quality of this year's Belmont, from a parimutuel standpoint, are whether Forever Together is vulnerable at a short price, whether Desert Key can take a step forwards, whether Justwhistledixie is a lock, etc.

Anonymous said...

No, no, yes.

Next question ;-)

El Angelo said...

What's funny is I disagree with you on all three.

Glimmerglass said...

A very nice undercard which sadly seems to be getting smoothered by a media dismissal of the Belmont Stakes as being "weak".

With MTB likely missing the pace needed to improve his odds I wonder if his connections entertained entering in a rabbit? Few who know the sport would've objected to such a move to ensure a solid pace up front.

Most people bristled at the entry ploy before the Preakness not because the horse would serve as a rabbit.

I'm very curious who Frankel will have aboard Zambezi Sun (GB) in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap. He has a coupled entry with Champs Elysees (GB) and Julien is listed on both.

If anyone can get Zamezi to relax and perform as he was long ago expected it would be Julien. I'd go with that combination for an upset if Julien Leparoux gets named to him.

Forever Together will go off at a short price but I simply do not see that loss whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

I would like to get opinions as to what the likelihood of persistent rain through the end of the day on Friday could do to the Belmont racing strip. I realize it should be nice on Saturday but will that be enough to dry out the track and, if not, what would a wet track mean to the pace of the Belmont??

steve in nc said...

Glim, I think in NY when the same rider is named on both halves of an entry, that means one horse will have to scratch.

I'm also interested in Zambezi, but the rider is an issue for me. I'm worried that Gomez, a go-rider for Frankel, chose Gio Ponti. Leparoux is only 2-24 for Frankel since the start of '08 so he must not be getting Bobby's best. If the turf is soft, that's not going to help Gio, and I think this race is wide open.

El Angelo, I'm taking a third path on your three questions: yes but I'm going to cover her on multis, maybe but I still don't think he'll beat the chalk, and no.

Anonymous said...

Still enough of ol' unforgettable Fred Caposella, THE voice of NY racing, to make the Arts and Letters Belmont a nice trip down memory lane. I didn't see the Belmont but was at The Spa to see his Travers win. Fred retired a year or two later, as I recall. My college pals and I can still break into a pretty decent Fred Caposella call when the starting gate opens, and much as we like Tom Durkin, Fred Caposella will always be the voice of NY racing to us. Thanks for the post, Alan.