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Analyzing the Belmont Stakes Contenders

Date: 06/05/2016

The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, and at 1 1/2 miles on the dirt, is a dinosaur with so few main track events carded at twelve furlongs these days. With the short five week span for three gruelling races under scale weight of 126 pounds over three very different tracks and three different distances, it takes a very special horse sweep the series. So much so that only twelve horses have completed the task, and the last one, American Pharoah in 2015.

Thanks to injuries, poor performance in preps, or just plain lack of ability at the distance, the Belmont often gets a short field of horses, although this year might be the exception. While traffic trouble, a major issue in the Kentucky Derby, shouldn't be an issue here, once again 3-year-olds are being asked to do something they've never done and conditioning will be key. Major factors which separate the likely winners of the Belmont are weighed out in this analysis, as we did for the Derby and Preakness fields.

Like the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, we have compiled some of the more profitable angles used to select a Belmont Stakes winner in recent years, and applied them to the possible entrants. Some novice horseplayers mistakenly believe a long race immediately favors closers when in fact the Belmont favors stalkers. As well, the 4.00 Dosage Index angle is stronger in the Belmont than in the Derby where it's mostly used; here, we set the upper limit on Dosage at 3 and on Center of Distribution at 0.8.

The Belmont favors horses who have zero points in the Solid and/or Professional wings of their dosage profiles, where you'd expect to see indicators of stamina for the grueling 12 furlong trip. In the past we looked for “double zero” but this eliminated some recent winners so this requirement has changed. As we have for the Derby and Preakness, horses that are tied in points will be listed in alphabetical order. However, unlike the first two legs of the Triple Crown, this year's Belmont analysis shows the field to be very closely matched indeed. Usually the Derby and Preakness winner “tower” over the rest of the field, but this time, this didn't happen. It is also worth noting that no horse scored the maximum possible score; each has his share of knocks. With a three way tie for top ranking, perhaps you may use timed workouts over the Belmont Park track this week as a tiebreaker, or back the horses at longer odds. You can view the past performances of these horses free from BRIS.

Destin in the post parade for the Kentucky Derby.

Exaggerator winning the Preakness.

Lani winning the UAE Derby.

Where there is a tie in points we will list the horses in alphabetical order.

There was a three-way tie for the highest points in the analysis.

Destin returns to Belmont Park since his debut which he won, earning him the crucial sharp race over the track. He won the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, earning him the 100 BRIS figure we are looking for (plus a stakes win this year), and he did start in the Kentucky Derby although he took off 8 weeks before it. He also qualifies on dosage, can stalk the pace. On the downside his 6th place finish in the Derby was not a sharp prep nor is it inside 4 weeks, he skipped the Preakness, and did not have enough juvenile starts.

Exaggerator is coming off his Preakness win (sharp prep inside 4 weeks) after finishing second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby. With Nyquist skipping the Belmont, Exaggerator should go off as the post time favorite. He has run 100+ BRIS figures for 6 straight starts, and qualifies on number of starts at 2 and 3. His negatives are his lack of experience at Belmont, his off-the-pace running style, and his dosage figures.

Lani has a reputation for slow starts, and has been all but ignored by American bettors who won't respect a Japanese horse that prepped via Dubai. However he is ranked right up there with favorite Exaggerator here. Unlike Exaggerator he qualifies on dosage (theoretically meaning he will be stronger at 1 1/2 miles). He raced in both Derby and Preakness, but his 5th place showing at Pimlico does not qualify as a sharp prep. He has not run a 100 BRIS figure, has never raced at Belmont, and rallies from well off the pace.

The next two horses tied in the points.

Creator won the Arkansas Derby but finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby. This is not a sharp prep nor is it inside the 4 week cutoff. He lacks any starts at Belmont, skipped the Preakness, and rallies from off the pace. He did qualify on dosage, BRIS figures (100 at Oaklawn), and number of starts. Although not part of the analysis, he also gets new jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. who is based in New York.

Governor Malibu is the first newcomer to the Triple Crown in the analysis, having won the Federico Tesio and then finished a close second in the Peter Pan. This qualifies as a sharp prep inside 4 weeks, as well as a sharp race over the Belmont track. he also stalks the pace which is preferred here. He has not run a 100 figure, fails on dosage, and skipped the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

The next four horses tied in the points.

Brody's Cause won the Blue Grass Stakes then disappointed in 7th in the Kentucky Derby before skipping the Preakness, clearly not a sharp prep and 5 weeks out. He has never run a 100 BRIS figure, has never run at Belmont Park, and likes to rally from off the pace. He does qualify on dosage and number of starts.

Cherry Wine comes to Belmont Park off a second place finish in the Preakness, nosing out Derby winner Exaggerator at the line. This qualifies as a sharp prep 3 weeks out, where he also earned a 100 BRIS figure. He does not qualify on dosage, has never raced at Belmont Park, and rallies from well off the pace.

Stradivari has the least experience in the field, with 2 starts as a juvenile and 2 starts this year. He qualifies on dosage, speed figure (101 earned in a Keeneland allowance), and he stalks the pace. His 4th place Preakness effort is not a sharp prep but is inside the 4 week limit, and this will be his first start at Belmont Park.

Wild About Deb is the second newcomer to the Triple Crown wars, entering the Belmont off a third place finish in the Peter Pan, a sharp prep over the Belmont track 4 weeks ago. He only raced once as a juvenile and twice this year and has not run a 100 figure, but does stalk the pace and qualifies on dosage.

The last two horses tied in the points.

Suddenbreakingnews did win the Southwest giving him the required stakes win this year, but he comes to Belmont off a 5th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, skipping the Preakness. He comes from well off the pace, does not qualify on dosage, and has never raced at Belmont.

Trojan Nation has not raced since finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby, and is still a maiden. He only qualifies on number of starts at 2 and 3, running style, and the fact that he started in the Derby. His dosage of 3.44 and center of distribution 0.9 miss the cutoff for this 12 furlong test.

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