Patch to race tomorrow in the Stephen F. Foster Handicap

cropped-130502173927-kentucky-derby-2012-horizontal-gallery1.jpg

June 15th 2018 – Updated June 16th 2018 6:45 PM CST

Tomorrow evening, NBC Sports will air the Stephen F. Foster Handicap, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Post time is 9:39 PM EST, 8:39 PM CST.

The one-eyed horse Patch was entered and drew the 2nd post and was given 10-1 Morning Line Odds. He’ll have some stiff competition in Backyard Heaven (6/5), Irish War Cry (5/1), Pavel (5/1), Lookin’ At Lee (12/1) and last year’s Stephen F. Foster Runner-Up–Honorable Duty (6/1). This will be a very interesting race because 7 out of the 9 entries are all coming off of wins in their last start.

I was planning on previewing this race, but life got in the way. The birth of my grandson Madden Joseph came unexpectedly late last night. And I have finally added a Grandson to my Grankid Trifecta.

Anyway, you can see the full Stephen F. Foster Handicap field on Equibase by clicking HERE

Update: You can see the Brisnet Past Performances by clicking HERE. When looking at the Brisnet Prime Power Ratings, this should be a close and exciting race. The horses that I would put in my Trifecta would be: Backyard Heaven, Honorable Duty and Patch. But I would give this a low confidence rating because this field is so close in talent. 

Backyard Heaven is the deserved favorite, but I am not sure he really deserves odds as low as 6/5 in this field. I don’t feel that this is the best distance for Patch but I feel his chances of hitting the board are pretty good. One horse that many liked last year, Pavel, could pull a surprise performance. He finished 4th in the Gold Cup race at Santa Anita Park back three weeks ago. 


On the docket…

I submitted my article for US Racing today that is tentatively titled: “Justify vs American Pharoah: Who’s Better?” This should come out in the next few days and I would guess by Monday evening at the latest. I’ll keep you posted.

–Michael

My Triple Crown Dream Was Justified

GIMcgx-a_400x400

June 12th 2018

I don’t even know where to begin when writing about my experience at the 150th Belmont Stakes or what adjectives to use to describe it. I checked off something that was at the top of  my bucket list by witnessing a Triple Crown Championship won in person. And the cherry on top was the fact that Justify became only the 2nd Triple Crown Champion to go through all three legs undefeated. Justify’s great-great-great grandsire Seattle Slew is the other.

I didn’t get to post this on my blog in time as this article for US Racing was posted while I was at the track Saturday but I did call this race. See: Why Justify Will Become the 13th Triple Crown Champion. 

Perhaps, it best that I share the two videos I took below and you will get idea of what I experienced. This race undoubtedly goes into my Top 5 sports memories viewed in person along with American Pharoah’s win in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic to make him the first Grand Slam Champion of American Thoroughbred racing.

 

Gronkowski

I was really surprised how well the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt Gronkowski performed in the Belmont Stakes with his 2nd place finish. This colt had never raced further than a mile and had raced mostly on turf or synthetic surfaces. I didn’t really think this was the best race for him but he exceeded all expectations. Unfortunately for me and quite a few others, Gronkowski killed all of my exotic bets.

TV Ratings

Although the Belmont Stakes on NBC was the most watched TV program all weekend, the ratings are down from when American Pharoah and California Chrome made their Triple Crown attempts at Belmont. The theory is that since Justify didn’t race as a 2 year old, that he hadn’t developed the following along the way as the other two.

At any rate, my blog views this year were down considerably from January thru May over the last two years. I blame some of this on the fact the Older Horse division lacks stars due to so many key retirements. And also the fact that the most popular Derby contenders in this class entering the year were more lightly raced than in year’s past.

However, Justify is just what this sport needed. The interest seems to be back better than ever as my blog views for the month of June have already set a new record over previous years. So, I foresee that this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championship at Churchill Downs will break a lot of records if Justify races in it as expected.


On the docket…

I am currently working on another article for US Racing that is tentatively titled: “Justify vs American Pharoah: Who’s Better?” This should come out in the next week or so.

For my blog, I also plan to preview this coming Saturday’s Stephen F. Foster Handicap if Patch is entered. So far this has not been confirmed.

–Michael

2018 Belmont Stakes Race Analysis

GIMcgx-a_400x400

June 8th 2015

From experience, I will state up front that the Belmont Stakes is the toughest of the three Triple Crown races to handicap. Even tougher than the 20 horse Kentucky Derby. Why? Stating the obvious, the Belmont Stakes is 12 furlongs (1 1/2 mile) and the furthest these 3-year-olds have raced is usually the 10 furlong (1 1/4 mile) Kentucky Derby.

It is easier to extrapolate and project how colts will fare moving from the final 9 furlong Derby preps to the 10 furlong Kentucky Derby. You really don’t know how some colts will respond to the added distance. And sometimes, colts that you think should take well to the distance due to their pedigree, don’t always produce to your level of expectations. It is sort of a crap shoot some years.

I have had limited success in the Belmont Stakes. So I decided to delve into Pre-Belmont Stakes Brisnet Past Performances to look for clues to improve my handicapping of race that seems to be harder to hit than a moving target. I would have liked to go back further but all I could find is past performances from the last six years starting in 2012. You can see this year’s Belmont Stakes Past Performances by clicking HERE.

So here is what I uncovered from the last six Belmont Stakes winners from Brisnet Past Performances:

  • All six had produced a 100 or better Brisnet Speed figure during their 3-year-old campaign. Horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby who failed to meet this criteria are: Bravazo, Tenfold, Free Drop Billy and Restoring Hope. Gronkowski is an incomplete because they don’t compute Brisnet Speed Figures for horses outside of North America. But I guarantee you that Gronkowski is not winning the Belmont Stakes.
  • All six winners had a Brisnet Prime Power rating over 140. Horses who failed to meet this criteria include: Blended Citizen 138.9, Free Drop Billy 135.7 and Restoring Hope 135.6.

There are other Brisnet Past Performance ratings such as Speed Last Race, Average Class Last 3 Races, Early Pace Last Race, Late Pace Last Race but none of these really shook out anything meaningful.

So from the above analytics, I have narrowed down the potential 2018 Belmont Stakes winner to three colts: Justify, Vino Rosso and Hofburg.

All three post-positions fit well for each colt’s running style. For Justify, Early Speed Types do well in the first three posts. In fact, they have had a 61% win percentage from these three posts for dirt route races at Belmont Park since April 27th to June 3rd. This is an early clue for my next US Racing article which should be out sometime today for why I believe Justify will win the 2018 Belmont Stakes and become the 13th Triple Crown Champion.

How do I see this race playing out? I think Justify will get out of the gate well and go to the front quickly. I think Restoring Hope will take the early lead and Justify will assume the position of a presser. Around the 6 furlong (3/4th mile mark) I foresee jockey Mike Smith sending Justify and I think that he will go on to win the race with a late challenge from either Hofburg or Vino Rosso.

If I had to predict the final finishing order, I’d go with this: 1) Justify, 2) Vino Rosso, 3) Hofburg, 4) Bravazo. In my exotics, I am going to throw in Blended Citizen and Tenfold in the 3rd and 4th place spots. I am kind of concerned that Bravazo may be coming off a peak performance and may not run as well as he did in the Preakness Stakes on a dry, fast track.

So for a Superfecta, 1 over 4,8 over 3,4,8,10 over 3,4,7,8 10. This $1 superfecta would cost $18. But don’t expect it to pay out well. A $2 Superfecta in 2015 when American Pharoah won only returned $570. You may consider higher dollar Exactas using 1 over 4 & 8.

–Michael

2018 Belmont Stakes Post-Positions and Odds

GIMcgx-a_400x400
June 5th 2018 – Updated June 6th 2018 11PM CST
Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes. The race will be aired live on NBC this coming Saturday around 5:37 PM CST.
One interesting factoid, three out of the last four Belmont Stakes winners (Tonalist, Creator and Tapwri) were sired by Tapit. This is why Hofburg is the second favorite, though I really think Vino Rosso is the 2nd most talented colt in this field behind Justify.

2018 Belmont Stakes Field

1) Justify (4/5) – The 2018 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner. He will attempt to become the 13th Triple Crown champion.


Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2001 & 2015 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2010 & 2013 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2018 Santa Anita Derby

2) Free Drop Billy (30/1) – The Dale Romans-trained Breeders’s Futurity winner. He had a disappointing 16th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. His entry in the Belmont Stakes will depend on how he trains this week. His sire, Union Rags, won the 2012 Belmont Stakes/


Career: 9 Starts 2-3-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>16th
Sire: Union Rags (Finished 1st in the 2012 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2018 Holy Bull Stakes

3) Bravazo (8/1) – The Risen Star Stakes winner had the best run of his career in the Preakness Stakes, finishing 2nd behind Justify by a half length. Trained by four time Belmont Stakes winner D. Wayne Lukas. Bravazo will be the 2nd favorite with bettors on Belmont Stakes day. H was coming like a runaway freight train in that last furlong in the Preakness Stakes and made the race interesting.


Career: 10 Starts 3-2-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>6th–>2nd
Sire: Awesome Again
Trainer: D.Wayne Lukas (1994, 1995, 1996 & 2000 Belmont Stakes.Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Luis Saez
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – 2018 Preakness Stakes

4) Hofburg (9/2) – After a 2nd place finish in the Florida Derby (shown below), Hofburg followed up this effort with a 7th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He has a former Belmont Stakes winning trainer and jockey in his corner.


Career: 4 Starts 1-1-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>7th
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: William Mott (2010 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr (2016 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Florida Derby

5) Restoring Hope (30/1) – Another new shooter who finished 3rd in the Wood Memorial (shown below). He had a disappointing effort in the sloppy Pat Day Mile, finishing 12th.


Career: 5 Starts 1-1-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>12th
Sire: Giant’s Causeway
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2001 & 2015 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 -2018 Wood Memorial

6) Gronkowski (12/1) – A European runner who is named after New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski. He is now being trained by Chad Brown. Gronkowski has primarily raced on synthetic or turf surfaces and has never raced longer than a mile. So he appears to be a better fit for the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes day.


Career: 6 Starts 4-1-0-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st-->1st
Sire: Lonhro
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz (2017 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

7) Tenfold (12/1) – The Steve Asmussen-trained colt finished 5th in the Arkansas Derby and had a surprising 3rd place finish in the Preakness Stakes.


Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>3rd
Sire: Curlin (Finished 2nd in the 2007 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2016 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Preakness Stakes

8) Vino Rosso (8/1) – The Wood Memorial winner. He finished 9th in the Kentucky Derby. He has a proven Belmont Stakes winning trainer and jockey behind him.


Career: 6 Starts 3-0-1-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>9th
Sire: Curlin (Finished 2nd in the 2007 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2007, 2013 & 2017 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velasquez (2007 and 2012 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2018 Wood Memorial

9) Noble Indy (30/1) – The surprise winner of the 2018 Louisiana Derby winner. He bombed in the sloppy Kentucky Derby with a 17th place finish. Trained by Todd Pletcher who is one of the best at preparing 3-year-old colts for the mile and a half.


Career: 5 Starts 3-0-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>17th
Sire: Take Charge Indy
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2007, 2013 & 2017 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

10) Blended Citizen (15/1) – A new shooter. He is coming off a win in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. So you know he likes track surface. He finished 5th in the Blue Grass Stakes.


Career: 10 Starts 3-0-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Proud Citizen (Finished 5th in the 2002 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Kyle Frey
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2018 Peter Pan Stakes


On the docket…

My next blog will provide race analysis. I will also have an article for US Racing on Justify’s chances of winning the Triple Crown.
–Michael

Patch Nominated for Met Mile on Belmont Stakes Day

GIMcgx-a_400x400

June 1st 2018 – Updated June 4th 2018

Patch, the one-eyed fan favorite from last year’s Kentucky Derby, was recently nominated for this year’s Metropolitan Handicap (aka “The Met Mile). Check out my latest US Racing on article: “Patch is Back! And He’s Better Than Ever! 

https://www.usracing.com/news/patch-back-hes-better-ever

For a full list on Met Mile nominations, click HERE 

Update: Patch is not going to run in the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes Day. Instead, he is being pointed towards the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 16th. But this is probably a better fit for him.

–Michael

2018 Belmont Stakes Early Preview

GIMcgx-a_400x400

May 26th 2018 – Updated May 29th 2018 6:00 PM CST

We are now two weeks away from the final leg of the Triple Crown. Below is an early look at the 2018 Belmont Stakes field. I have included my best guess on their morning line odds.

Thus far, it appears to be Justify with a field of closers and little early speed which bodes well for those of us who will be there hoping to see the 13th Triple Crown champion.

Looking at Brisnet Past Performances for this Belmont Stakes field (CLICK HERE), Justify has Prime Power rating of 161.0 that is more than 10 over the next colt in this field (146.1 – Vino Rosso). Historically, this equates to a 55% win percentage for Justify in this race.

When looking at the past 25 years of Belmont Stakes winners, 17 of 25 raced in the Kentucky Derby. Only 7 colts who won the Belmont Stakes were new shooters (those making their first appearance in a Triple Crown race). Only 1 of the winners came out of the Preakness Stakes that didn’t also race in the Kentucky Derby.

My best guess, the only horse in this field that can beat Justify in this field is Vino Rosso. If you are trying to beat Justify, he’s your horse. Well rested, he will have 35 days layoff between races. Trained by Todd Pletcher who is one of the best at training colts for the Mile and a Half. Justify’s worst Beyer Speed Figure is 97. Vino Rosso is the only colt in this potential field who had eclipsed that figure.

2018 Belmont Stakes Potential Entries

1) Justify (4/5) – The 2018 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner. He will attempt to become the 13th Triple Crown champion.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Last 3 starts:  1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2001 & 2015 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2010 & 2013 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2018 Santa Anita Derby

2) Bravazo (4/1) – The Risen Star Stakes winner had the best run of his career in the Preakness Stakes, finishing 2nd behind Justify by a half length. Trained by four time Belmont Stakes winner D. Wayne Lukas. Bravazo will be the 2nd favorite with bettors on Belmont Stakes day. He was coming like a runaway freight train in that last furlong in the Preakness Stakes and made the race interesting.

Career: 10 Starts 3-2-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>6th–>2nd
Sire: Awesome Again
Trainer: D.Wayne Lukas (1994, 1995, 1996 & 2000 Belmont Stakes.Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Luis Saez
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – 2018 Preakness Stakes

3) Hofburg (6/1) – After a 2nd place finish in the Florida Derby (shown below), Hofburg followed up this effort with a 7th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He has a former Belmont Stakes winning trainer and jockey in his corner.

Career: 4 Starts 1-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>7th
Sire: Tapit 
Trainer: William Mott (2010 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr (2016 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Florida Derby

4) Vino Rosso (8/1) The Wood Memorial winner. He finished 9th in the Kentucky Derby. He has a proven Belmont Stakes winning trainer and jockey behind him.

Career: 6 Starts 3-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>9th
Sire: Curlin (Finished 2nd in the 2007 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2007, 2013 & 2017 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velasquez (2007 and 2012 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2018 Wood Memorial

5) Tenfold (10/1) – The Steve Asmussen-trained colt finished 5th in the Arkansas Derby and had a surprising 3rd place finish in the Preakness Stakes.

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>5th–>3rd
Sire: Curlin (Finished 2nd in the 2007 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2016 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Preakness Stakes

6) Noble Indy (15/1) – The surprise winner of the 2018 Louisiana Derby winner.  He bombed in the sloppy Kentucky Derby with a 17th place finish. Trained by Todd Pletcher who is one of the best at preparing 3-year-old colts for the mile and a half.

Career: 5 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  3rd–>1st–>17th
Sire: Take Charge Indy 
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2007, 2013 & 2017 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

7) Blended Citizen (20/1) – The Peter Pan Stakes winner, so you know he likes Belmont Park’s track surface. He finished 5th in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Career: 10 Starts 3-0-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Proud Citizen (Finished 5th in the 2002 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Kyle Frey
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2018 Peter Pan Stakes

8) Restoring Hope (30/1) – Finished 3rd in the Wood Memorial (shown below). He had a disappointing effort in the sloppy Pat Day Mile, finishing 12th.

Career: 5 Starts 1-1-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>3rd–>12th
Sire: Giant’s Causeway
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2001 & 2015 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: To Be Announced
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 -2018 Wood Memorial

9) Gronkowski (30/1) – A European runner who is named after New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski. He is now being trained by Chad Brown. Gronkowski has primarily raced on synthetic or turf surfaces and has never raced longer than a mile. So he appears to be a better fit for the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes day.

Career: 6 Starts 4-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>1st-->1st
Sire: Lonhro
Trainer: Chad Brown 
Jockey: Jose Ortiz (2017 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

10) Free Drop Billy (30/1) – The Dale Romans-trained Breeders’s Futurity winner. He had a disappointing 16th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He is a confirmed entry in the Belmont Stakes today (May 29th).

Career: 9 Starts 2-3-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>16th
Sire: Union Rags (Finished 1st in the 2012 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2018 Holy Bull Stakes

11) Bandua (30/1) – A rumored entry and another European turf runner who is a grandson of 1977 Belmont Stakes winner Seattle Slew on his dam’s side. He is undefeated in two starts and has raced at 1 1/4th mile distance. He is also being pegged for the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Stakes race on June 30th at Curragh Racecourse. My guess is that won’t be entered in the Belmont Stakes and will instead focus on the Irish Stakes.

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 2 starts: 1st->1st
Sire: The Factor
Trainer: Dermont Weld
Jockey: To Be Announced
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A


On the docket…

I am working on an article for US Racing on why Justify will become the 13th Triple Crown champion.

–Michael

Updated 2018 Belmont Stakes Contenders – Audible will not be entered

GIMcgx-a_400x400

May 25th 2018

As many expected, it was announced today that the Florida Derby winner Audible will not run in the Belmont Stakes. Audible has the same ownership group (WinStar Farm/China Horse Club) as Justify.

So far, it appears that Justify’s competition for the Belmont Stakes will be:

Bravazo (Luis Saez/D. Wayne Lukas) –  Preakness Stakes Runner-Up
Vino Rosso (John Velazquez/Todd Pletcher) – 9th place finisher in the Kentucky Derby
Noble Indy (Florent Geroux/Todd Pletcher) – 17th place finisher in Kentucky Derby
Tenfold (Ricardo Santana Jr/Steve Asmussen) – 3rd place finisher in Preakness Stakes
Blended Citizen (Kyle Frey/Doug O’Neill) – Peter Pan Stakes Winner
Hofburg (Irad Ortiz Jr/Bill Mott) – 7th place finisher in the Kentucky Derby
Gronkowski (?/Chad Brown) – Burradon Stakes Winner
Free Drop Billy
(Robbie Albarado/Dale Romans) – 16th place finisher in Kentucky Derby
Restoring Hope
(Flavien Prat?/Bob Baffert) – 12th place finisher in Peter Pan Stakes
Bandua
(?/Dermont Weld) – UK turf horse

Current Odds (Wynn Las Vegas)

Justify – 1/1
Bravazo – 8/1
Hofburg – 10/1
Vino Rosso – 11/1
Noble Indy – 12/1
Tenfold – 12/1
Restoring Hope – 20/1
Blended Citizen – 28/1
Gronkowski – 40/1
Free Drop Billy – 40/1
Bandua – No odds

–Michael

Why Justify will become the 13th Triple Crown Champion

GIMcgx-a_400x400

May 24th 2018

I am working on my next US Racing article “Why Justify will become the 13th Triple Crown Champion

There has only been one undefeated Triple Crown contender–Seattle Slew–who won the Triple Crown. Justify is the great-great-great grandson of Seattle Slew on his dam’s side. Seattle Slew is the only undefeated Triple Crown contender entering the Belmont Stakes who pulled it off (see below).

Stay tuned!
–Michael Cox

Triple Crown contenders entering the Belmont Stakes. How many were there? And how they fared

GIMcgx-a_400x400

May 22nd 2018

I was curious and did some more research today that I think many of my readers might be interested in. My curiosity was: How many Triple Crown contenders entered the Belmont Stakes undefeated?

With Justify’s win in the Preakness Stakes, he became only the 5th Triple Crown contender in history entering the Belmont Stakes undefeated. Here are the five horses and their outcome in the Belmont Stakes.

1969 – Majestic Prince – 2nd (lost by 5 1/2 lengths) – He had won 9 straight races
1977 – Seattle Slew – 1st (won by 4 lengths) – He had won 8 straight races and made it 9
2004 – Smarty Jones – 2nd (lost by 1 length) – He had won 8 straight races.
2008 – Big Brown – 9th -Did Not Finish – He had won 5 straight races.
2018 – Justify – ? – He is on a 5 race winning streak.

Justify attempts to become only the 2nd horse ever since Seattle Slew to win the Triple Crown undefeated.

–Michael

Justify’s Triple Crown Odds

GIMcgx-a_400x400

May 21st 2018

With the 143rd Preakness Stakes now in the books, my focus will be on potential entries and Justify’s odds of pulling off the Triple Crown. Currently, it appears that he has even 1:1 odds which equates to a 50% chance. I think that is about right until we know for certain who is going to be entered.

First the good news, Justify came out of the Preakness in fine shape according to Trainer Bob Baffert. 

In Justify’s corner, he has one of the best trainers in the world who has won a Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharoah. Plus he is ridden by one of the top jockeys in the world as well in Mike Smith. Both Baffert and Smith have both won the Belmont Stakes twice during their career.

Thus far, it appears that Justify’s competition for the Belmont Stakes will be: Bravazo, Tenfold, Blended Citizen, Hofburg, Vino Rosso and possibly My Boy Jack, Free Drop Billy, Solomini and Audible. The latter is probably doubtful since Audible has the same ownership group (WinStar Farm/China Horse Club) as Justify. Common sense says you don’t try to beat yourself out of a Triple Crown. And the Florida Derby winner Audible is a talented colt who hit the board in the Kentucky Derby.

Winning the Belmont Stakes will be much more difficult than winning the Preakness Stakes as this potential field is much more talented and perhaps better suited for the Mile and a Half at Belmont Park than the Preakness Stakes field had against Justify cutting back a bit on distance in similar sloppy conditions as the Derby.

Bravazo had an impressive late run in the Preakness. You sort of got the feeling that if the Preakness would have been 10 furlongs instead of 9 1/2, Bravazo would have won beaten Justify to the wire. However, if the Preakness Stakes had been run on a dry, fast track, I don’t think this race would have been this close.

Interesting is the fact that despite a Preakness Stakes time (1:55.93) that was faster than American Pharoah’s (1:58.46) and Exaggerator’s (1:58.31) sloppy Preakness Stakes times, Justify only received a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. Justify’s closing speed time from the 3/4th mile mark was also faster in the Preakness Stakes than the Kentucky Derby. However, Pimlico’s track runs a bit faster in sloppy conditions than Churchill Downs.

Stay tuned, I will be monitoring this closely and will provide updates periodically. Since there are 3 weeks between the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, news comes a little slower but I expect to know more by next Monday.

–Michael