Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Final Leg of The Triple Crown

It is the final leg of the Triple Crown and this year for the first time a jockey, not the horse may be the winner. Calvin Borel won the Kentucky Derby on Mine That Bird (pictured above) and the Preakness on Rachel Alexandra and returns to Mine That Bird for the Belmont, the favorite horse. Borel is trying to be the firrst jockey in history to win the Triple Crown on different horses.

Certain to challenge for the win is Charitable Man who did not run in either of the previous races but has won 3 of 4 races at Bemont Park.
The most current odds are as follows:

Mine That Bird 2/3
Dunkirk 9/2
Charitable Man 7/2
Chocolate Candy 13/1
Flying Private 16/1
Mr. Hot Stuff 20/1
Brave Victory 25/1
Miners Escape 30/1
Summer Bird 25/1
Luv Gov 40/1

The following stories appeared in the credited sources and pretty much sum up the difficulty of winning this race.

By Bobby Smith
New York Racing Examiner

The race known as the Belmont Stakes is one of the biggest jokes in American sports. Like the two-party system, labor unions, Major League Baseball and print newspapers, it outlived its usefulness a while ago, yet still exists out of habit, coming up once again this Saturday, June 6.

The gross national product of a small country was suctioned out of 100,000 pockets when Big Brown was eased in it last year – while shooting for a sweep of the Triple Crown, no less. Why was he eased? No real answer was ever given. The horse that won last year’s Belmont Stakes – Da’ Tara -- hasn’t won since, which isn’t a surprise.

The mile-and-a-half distance grows more uncommon with every passing year that Thoroughbreds are mated, so uncommon horses tend to win the Belmont Stakes. Winners of the Belmont Stakes tend to disappear from the scene within weeks or months of their big moment. The general rule of thumb is, the better the winner, the sooner it will exit from competition. Under those rules, people need better reasons for showing up here (they do, however, exist. Read on.)

The 1984 winner, Swale, died mysteriously behind his shedrow two weeks after winning the race. In 1988, Risen Star never raced again after winning the Belmont Stakes by 15 lengths. Ever hear of Go and Go, the 1990 winner? Or Editor’s Note, the 1996 winner? How about Commendable, from 2000? Point Given and Empire Maker were retired with injuries within months after winning the race in 2001 and 2003. Afleet Alex, the 2005 winner, never raced again. Where is Jazil, the 2006 winner? Retired, and 0-for-3 after winning the race. The filly Rags to Riches ran one more time, finishing second three months later, after winning the 2007 Belmont Stakes.

The sport of Thoroughbred racing has over-promoted the Tiple Crown and “star power horses” in its many futile attempts to cultivate new fans. Fans are not necessary, and the New York Racing Association provides excellent proof of that as they exist despite Belmont Park attendances of only 3,500 during the week, and 7,000 on weekends. More proof that fans are not necessary was given when NYRA raised the price of admission and parking for Belmont Stakes Day by 500% a few years ago.

When there is no pending Triple Crown sweep – like this year – the 50% reduction in Belmont Stakes Day attendance is more than offset by the price the smaller crowd is willing to pay for the right to attend. Exactly what is that crowd getting that they couldn’t get on a regular day at the races? Nothing, really, but the people aren’t necessarily aware of that.The best thing about the Belmont Stakes is that it is one of many fine manifestations of the old Chicago song, “Saturday in the Park.”

The race itself isn’t a must-see as much as being there – regardless of the historical significance of the race itself -- is a tradition for the people on hand who can look past the hype, enjoy the moment with friends and family, and understand that the currency the track pays out for winning a bet on any of the other 10 races on the card is the same as it would be for picking the winning horse, exacta or trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. The Belmont Stakes itself is merely the big distraction. It means more to the many shady participants than it ever will to the viewers. What it’s all about is “People dancing, people laughing. A man selling ice cream. Singing Italian songs …Can you dig it ? (yes, I can). And I’ve been waiting such a long time. For Saturday.”

The following analysis is from the BoDogLife web page and provides further details about this year's Belmont.

Belmont Stakes Betting Tips‏ and Odds: The Belmont Stakes will be run for the 141st time Saturday, June 6th at spacious Belmont Park and the bettors are looking for any and all clues in trying to find the winner of the mile and a half classic. Longshots have dominated this race for the past 10 years, with the average winner's odds Belmont Stakes Odds at 20 to 1.
So, it goes without saying, it pays not to dismiss any one in this last leg of the Triple Crown. A few other trends should be noted when handicapping the Belmont Stakes, such as post position, where the inside posts were golden years ago, they are now a disadvantage since the last 4 winners have started from posts 7 or higher, and only one of the last 8 winners has been inside of the 7 hole, and that was Birdstone, who broke from stall # 4.
As mentioned, in previous years the inside post were considered the best because in a cleanly run race, with relatively small fields, the shortest distance to the wire at the end of a mile and a half, is on the rail. Recently, however, the fields for the Belmont Stakes have had more starters, so the outside is convenient because there is no traffic, and horses turning for home in full flight don't get impeded.
Another clue to picking the Belmont Stakes winner is that horses that have run in both of the Triple Crown races prior to the Belmont Stakes, have not performed too well at all, and conversely, the ones who skipped them , have made it into the winners circle. Only Afleet Alex, who ran in the Derby and Preakness, has done it in the last 7 years.That being said, horses that only ran in one Triple Crown race, have done very well as evidenced by 12 winner in the last 15 years. Of the three Triple Crown races, it seems the Derby and Preakness take jockey experience as a prerequisite for success, while the Belmont Stakes seem to embrace first time jockeys because 3 of the last 4 Belmont Stakes winners were piloted by rookie jocks.
Finally, breeding is one of the most important factors to utilize, especially because the Belmont Stakes distance is such a test of stamina, and in genetics, stamina usually begets stamina. A few examples, four of the last eight Belmont Stakes winners were sired by classic winners, two more were sired by Breeders Cup Classic winners, and just going through the Belmont winners list, there is a preponderance of Belmont winners sired by Belmont winners or out of dams sired by Belmont winners.

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