RSS Feed for this Blog

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Belmont Notes

I was surprised that NYRA's oddsmaker Eric Donovan tabbed Nehro as the 4-1 second choice in the Belmont, leaving Shackleford as the third choice at 9-2. I'd been assuming that the Derby and Preakness winners would be favorite and second choice respectively. But it's true that the pp lines show Nehro passing Shackleford at a mile and a quarter. So the natural assumption gives him the edge at a mile and half. That's often the way the money goes in this race, as most recently evidenced by Ice Box being 9-5 last year(!) Of course, we've seen many such horses flatten out from, rather the thrive on, the added ground.

In any event, it shows some independent thinking on Donavan's part from his employer's narrative of the matchup of the Derby and Preakness winners. Even the NYRA press release announcing the post position draw and despite those morning odds reads:
It's Animal Kingdom vs. Shackleford, 10 Others, in Belmont Stakes.

I really don't like Nehro here, especially so at second choice! And, as I explained in the last post, nor do I like Animal Kingdom as the favorite. Makes it almost a race that I have to bet in some way then on principle, even though I don't really care for it much. Besides the top two, I also don't at all like Mucho Macho Man, one of the 10-1 third choices; and if you like the other, Master of Hounds, at that price, well then why, at least based on their Derby performances, wouldn't you take a shot on Santiva or Brilliant Speed, both of whom finished virtually even with that one, at more generous prices instead.

I would totally take a shot on Shackleford if the bettors go for the closers, and he drifts up to 5, 6-1. No way I think he's a mile and a half horse, don't get me wrong. But he seems to be on the improve and man, look at this race....this is a field that he could open up some meaningful lengths on the main contenders. The only horse who has shown a hint of early speed of late is Prime Cut, who has some serious class issues here, besides the fact that he's been stalking the pace of late. If Shackleford can get to the quarter pole up by open lengths - and that at a time when much of the field is likely to already have put in their best run - who knows, he could be tough to catch even as he's staggering towards the finish line.

So, I have no pick at this time. Will probably fool around in some Pick Whatevers with all of those top five betting choices other than Shackleford eliminated; and keep a eye on the tote as post time approaches for some spontaneous ideas. The kind that I would usually try to resist for a normal race.

Fortunately, there are 12 other races, so I'm gonna go look at those, and hopefully get some thoughts on some of them up here on Friday night sometime.

First a couple of other things:

Versus will have two hours of Belmont-related programming on Friday afternoon. (And anyone who's been watching Stanley Cup action on the network over the past few weeks is well aware that they have coverage around the event.) An hour of "Belmont classics" starting at 4, and then an hour from the track with coverage of the Brooklyn Handicap and the Poker Handicap (and, regarding the latter, be sure to check out the status of grass racing on Friday after some torrential rain this evening. I know they'll try to keep a stakes race on, but they will also be thinking about Saturday which, ominously, has the chance of rain in the forecast too).

I dunno actually what kind of impression that TV coverage from Belmont on a Friday afternoon will make on a national TV audience. I imagine that NYRA would prefer to be directing the coverage, avoiding any long pan shots of the empty grandstand.

There's a full day of music on Saturday, though a long ways from the commercial wimpy pop fare presented at Pimlico on Preakness day. I'll just print the whole schedule as provided by NYRA here:

* 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. – The following strolling musicians will perform for fans:
o Buddy Merriam’s Bluegrass Trio (Grandstand entrance)
o Harvey Schneider’s Dixie-land Trio (West end entrance)
o Vocalese Barbershop Quartet (Clubhouse entrance)

* 10 a.m. – noon – Sean Dolan Band (Backyard stage)
* 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Ernie Munick will perform for fans throughout the Grandstand
* 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. – “Augie” the Belmont Park mascot will greet fans
* 11 a.m. – NYRA Controller Jelena Alonso performs “The Star-Spangled Banner”
* Noon – 2 p.m. – Godfrey Townsend Band with Joey Molland and Mitch Ryder (Backyard stage)
* 2:15 p.m. – Buglers Sam Grossman (“Sam the Bugler”) and Ryan Resky perform “God Bless America ”
* 2 – 6 p.m. – Southern Exposure Band (Backyard stage)
* 6:25 p.m. – Frank Sinatra’s recording of “ New York , New York ” will accompany the Belmont Stakes horses onto the track (the Belmont is race 11 with a 6:35 p.m. post time)
Don't think we'll be seeing any of the above playing in Williamsburg anytime soon. But I'm sure it will be fun, especially after some bourbon that I'm not allowed to bring in. Joey Molland was in Badfinger, and Mitch Ryder had a #4 single in Devil With the Blue Dress with the Detroit Wheels back in the 60's. Seems kinda like a random pairing; like Ray Davies and Mary Wells, or Wayne Fontana and John Mayall.

Anyway, NYRA seems to be most excited about playing Frank Sinatra's New York, New York during the post parade - it got its own press release! I guess they're delirious after the flap over Jay-Z and Alicia Keys last year. However, if I was Joey Molland or Mitch Ryder....or Ernie Munick for that matter....I don't know how I'd feel upon reading the article on NYRA's Belmont Stakes site with the headline Sinatra’s “New York, New York” Headlines Belmont Stakes Day Tunes.


Anonymous said...

Despite Donovan's ML, I think Shackleford will be second choice. He did win the Preakness after all. He has the name recognition and recency over Nehro, which matters some on days when plenty of money will come in from those who don't follow the game closely. Frankly, I think everyone expected Nehro to be the wiseguy horse, but in fact he seems to be flying a bit under the radar (Master of Hounds, in contrast, as you point out, seems to be generating alot of discussion). I won't be too surprised to see Nehro win and I think I'll be backing him.

Figless said...

While true that Shack is the lone true speed horse, I believe the jockeys, most of whom (Nakatani excepted) looked like fools in the Derby backing off a dawdling pace, may over compensate here and will be forwardly placed and aggressive on the backstretch.

No speed duel but doubt Shack will be allowed to get away to an open length lead in say 115, which is what he will need to last 12f.

Some of the best races run by Stay Thirsty, Santiva, Prime Cut, Mucho MM, and Isnt He Perfect have been on or near the lead, and if you watch the Dubai Derby you will see that Master of Hounds can be near the front also and has mostly been a close up stalker in his overseas races. I expect him to be aggressively ridden here.

Shack's roll has changed since the Derby, he is now a target, not an after thought and they will shoot for him early.

The two horses that were inexplicably rated into submission on Derby Day, Master of Hounds and Santiva, will be my keys.

Mucho has a legit excuse in the Preakness (lost shoe) and was also rated like the above two in the Derby, but I still cant get past his sprint pedigree.

Jury reamains out on Animal Kingdom, might be special, might be Mine That Bird, at 2-1 I will play against and hope for the latter.

Shack will fail to get the 12f, wont play him at any odds.

Nehro is logical and must include despite getting a perfect trip in Derby and still being blown away by AK in the stretch. Extra rest gives him advantage in the rematch.

Nehro, Santiva, Master of Hounds.

El Angelo said...

I disagre with Anon--I think Shackleford will be the fourth choice behind Animal Kingdom, Nehro and Master of Hounds. MOH is getting enough hype and chatter that my guess is he'll be 5-1.

As for the pace, bear in mind that Ruler on Ice adds blinkers; I expect him to be close to the front too.

I like AK, Santiva and Monzon as a bomb to fill out triples.

Anonymous said...

Start spreading the news

Animal Kingdom will be there. Box him high and low.

It's up to you - new york new york

Anonymous said...

Shackleford has a chance to go off at 10-1 or higher based on the will-pays.