This Saturday at Belmont Park the last of this season’s American Classics will take place and despite the absence of a Triple Crown contender it remains a race of real intrigue. The Belmont Stakes is a name that still resonates with Irish racing fans after the 1990 success of Go And Go for Dermot Weld and Michael Kinane, which remains Ireland’s only win in an American Triple Crown Race.
Exaggerator currently heads the market after his Preakness eclipse of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. There is no Nyquist to contend with this time and the Desormeaux brother’s charge clearly holds the strongest form in the race. However he does have several question marks over him coming into this race;
Preakness Stakes Replay:
- Will he be as effective on a fast track?
- Will he stay the 12 furlongs?
- Will he be able to produce his best after a gruelling Preakness win?
It is tough to say that Exaggerator won’t be as effective if conditions are fast as his second place finish in the Kentucky Derby would still probably be the best form in this race but coincidental or not his most impressive performances have come in the Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness which were both run on sloppy conditions.
Exaggerator arrives at Belmont Park:
What might help to counteract the faster track is the step up in distance which Exaggerator looks sure to appreciate. He is a late closer and the red-hot early pace in the Preakness really brought his stamina into play. If he has a weakness it is a lack of pace early in races and this 12 furlong trip could show him in a better light than we have previously seen as he should be able to travel the early pace with ease.
The biggest question mark over Exaggerator is whether he can produce his best after a series of tough races. This century has proven that it is very difficult for a horse to run to his best after taking in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. (War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, Big Brown and California Chrome all fell at this stage of their Triple Crown bids in that space of time) Only time will tell if Exaggerator can produce his best again in such a short space of time but if he can he is surely the horse to beat.
Suddenbreakingnews is a prime example of the sort of fresher animal that Exaggerator will have to deal with. Not seen since really taking the eye when staying on strongly late to take fifth in the Kentucky Derby, connections clearly feel that this step up in trip will bring about further improvement. His pedigree suggests they are right as he is a grandson of 2005 Belmont winner Afleet Alex.
Stradivari will carry the Tabor silks so familiar to followers of European racing and this lightly raced colt must have a big chance on only his fifth ever start. He acquitted himself well stepping up to Grade 1 class in the Preakness last time when finishing a close fourth behind Exaggerator, Cherry Wine and Nyquist. He can be expected to improve for that experience and it will be interesting to see how he goes on Saturday night.
Cherry Wine is a fascinating contender after his second place finish in the Preakness. Out of shot early in the race, he produced a powerful late surge making up a huge distance to take second. On face value he looks sure to appreciate the extra distance and is a huge price at around 10/1 but the ludicrous early pace that day definitely led to a pace collapse late in the race and may have flattered the finish of Cherry Wine who was ideally placed off such a strong pace. With this in mind I would advise caution reading that form literally.
Destin was another to have run in the Kentucky Derby when finishing a respectable sixth. There doesn’t look to be any clear reason for him to reverse the form with those in front of him that day. Brody’s Cause and Lani are others that look set to be competing for minor money.
Exaggerator boasts strong form claims here and could be very hard to beat but at the forecast prices Suddenbreakingnews is of real interest. He arrives here fresher than the favourite and finished the Kentucky Derby like a train. Stadiveri still remains a horse of some potential but he may have to settle for minor honors again.
The Belmont Stakes is due to go to post at 23.37 (GMT) on Saturday 11th June and will be available to stream on thetote.com through our bet and watch service.