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Justify Triple Crown Gear

Belmont Poll
Who will win the 2018 Belmont?

Bravazo
Blended Citizen
Free Drop Billy
Gronkowski
Hofburg
Justify
Noble Indy
Restoring Hope
Tenfold
Vino Rosso

Analyzing the Belmont Stakes Contenders

Date: 06/03/2018

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, the last one being American Pharoah in 2015 after a 37 year gap.

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 as possibly 12 horses, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Justify, are pointing to the race. While traffic trouble, a major issue in the Kentucky Derby, shouldn't be as much of an issue here, once again 3-year-olds are being asked to do something they've never done and conditioning will be key. In addition Belmont Park's huge 1 1/2 mile oval will be unfamiliar to most horses so we favor those which have had a sharp past race over it. 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, so we prefer horses labeled "E/P" or "P" in BRIS past performances (by comparison "E" types are front-runners while "S" are closers). 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 Center of Distribution at 0.8.

The Belmont favors horses who have zero points in the Solid and Professional wings of their dosage profiles, which is counterintuitive as you'd expect to see indicators of stamina for the grueling 12 furlong trip, but "double zero" horses get an extra point. As we have for the Derby and Preakness, horses that are tied in points will be listed in alphabetical order. It is worth noting that no horse scored the maximum possible score; each has his share of knocks, however no horses tied in the top 3 positions. You can view the past performances of these horses free here from BRISnet.

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

Noble Indy - sits alone at the top of the analysis by scoring the most points, but we will note here that he did not qualify on every factor. The Louisiana Derby (G2) winner finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby, so he is coming off a Triple Crown race (and within 5 weeks) but this is not a sharp prep race. In addition he skipped the Preakness, and has never raced at Belmont Park. He did have enough starts at 2 and 3, satisfies all three Dosage qualifications, qualifies on BRIS speed figures (a 97 in his lone juvenile start, and a 100 at Fair Grounds this year), and he can stalk the pace to victory as he did in the Louisiana Derby. When there's a Triple Crown on the line the Derby/Preakness winner is always overbet due to purchases of souvenir win tickets, so Noble Indy may represent value at the windows.

The next 2 horses tied in the analysis and are listed alphabetically.

Blended Citizen - is a newcomer to the Triple Crown wars, coming here off a win in the Peter Pan (G3), giving him not only a sharp prep but also a sharp race over Belmont's main track. He had already qualified on stakes wins having won the Jeff Ruby (G3) at Turfway, and also qualifies on Dosage. On the downside he skipped the Derby and Preakness as noted, was over-raced as a juvenile (we want 1-3 starts, he raced six times in 2017), and did not run a 95 BRIS figure in any of those 6 starts either.

Bravazo - was 6th in the Derby then a close 2nd in the Preakness, giving him a sharp prep 3 weeks out and full Triple Crown experience. However he was also overraced as a juvenile with 5 starts, has never run at Belmont Park, and failed on both speed figure qualifications, having a best figure of 86 as a juvenile and 98 this year, short of the 95 and 100 pars we are looking for.

Justify - despite going for the Triple Crown, is alone in 4th place here, again with his lack of juvenile experience leaving 2 points on the table - 0 starts at 2 thus no speed figure to count. He is also a confirmed front-runner in a race that prefers stalkers, has never been to Belmont, and on dosage he does not have the "double zero" right wing pattern. We did not include this in the points calculation but it is worth noting that between Affirmed in 1978 and American Pharoah in 2015, there were a whopping 12 horses that won the Derby and Preakness but failed win the Belmont (13 if you count I'll Have Another in 2012, but he did not start), statistically showing just how difficult a feat this is especially in this current era of racing. Justify will undoubtedly go off at very short odds due to souvenir win tickets on him alone, so if you are looking to profit from this race you can try to beat him, or use him in vertical exotics.

The next 2 horses tied in the analysis and are listed alphabetically.

Hofburg - was 7th in the Kentucky Derby after finishing 2nd in the Florida Derby, so he lacks a stakes win this year, however his Gulfstream win was a 104 BRIS effort which qualifies here. In addition he also lacks the double zero Dosage profile, skipped the Preakness, is not coming off a sharp prep, and did not run a 95 figure as a juvenile, scoring 79 in his lone start last year at Saratoga.

Tenfold - like Justify was unraced as a juvenile, coming here off a 5th place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and a close 3rd in the Preakness (G1), giving him a sharp prep 3 weeks out, but he still lacks a stakes win. He has never run at Belmont Park, failed to meet the speed figure par at both 2 and 3, and skipped the Derby.

The next 3 horses tied in the analysis and are listed alphabetically.

Free Drop Billy - was a distant 16th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) after finishing 4th in the Blue Grass (G2). He has not won a stakes race this year, nor has he run a 100 BRIS figure. He was over-raced as a juvenile with 5 starts, but did meet the par running a 98 at Saratoga. He has never raced at Belmont, he is not coming here off a sharp race, and he lacks the double zero Dosage profile.

Gronkowski - is one of three European-trained horses in the field, although for the Belmont he joins the powerful Chad Brown barn. He comes here off a 4 race win streak including the listed Burradon Stakes at Newcastle. This gives him a sharp prep, however it was run on March 30 so this is too long a layoff (we want 5 weeks maximum - Kentucky Derby day). Obviously he has not run at Belmont, and converting his Racing Post Ratings to BRIS figures, he has only run a 90 as a juvenile and a 96 this year, both under par. Finally, he is one of three horses that failed to meet the 0.8 maximum for Center of Distribution.

Vino Rosso - won the Wood Memorial (G2) before finishing 9th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), giving him the required stakes win but not a sharp prep. Although he has the required "double zero" his Dosage Index is 3.57 and Center of Distribution is 0.88, both missing the cutoffs. He did run a 102 in the Wood but failed to meet the par asa juvenile, his best being 90 in his debut. Finally, he tends to rally from off the pace rather than stalk.

Restoring Hope - is alone in 10th place. Another newcomer to the Triple Crown wars he comes here off a 12th place finish in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Derby undercard, after finishing 3rd in the Wood Memorial (G1), so he lacks a stakes win and did not have a sharp prep race. His speed figures are short of par, with 92 as a juvenile and 96 this year, and he tends to run very close to the pace; he has not been able to win when trying to rally.

Seahenge - is the third European horse in the field but he is coming off a 7th place finish in the Pat Day Mile (G3) at Churchill on Derby Day after finishing a distant 5th in the UAE Derby (G2). He was overraced as a juvenile with 5 starts, but he did run a Racing Post 110 which is about 99 BRIS, meeting the juvenile par. However, his best figure of 95 this year (converted from 104 Racing Post) at Dundalk did not meet par. Finally, he tends to close from off the pace and fails on two of the Dosage requirements - he lacks the double zero and his Center of Distribution is the highest in the field at 1.06.

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