Belmont Stakes 2013: Sleepers with the Best Shot to Win
The Belmont Stakes is shaping up to be a war. It has all the ingredients that make for a compelling Classic race.
There are new shooters to the Triple Crown scene; there's the top three finishers from the Kentucky Derby; there's the Derby winner and the Preakness winner; there's three horses that ran in the Derby and Preakness; there's even a filly.
Throw it in the hopper, spin it around and what do you get? A lot of unpredictability that naturally leads to the possibility of a sleeper or two with a shot to win.
Heck, here's six sleepers and why they're valuable.
The quotes and information regarding workouts, unless otherwise stated, came from NYRA.com.
Todd Pletcher, trainer to five Belmont starters, saddles Kentucky Oaks third place-finisher Unlimited Budget. That's right, Oaks runner. We have a classic girl taking on the boys scenario.
Unlimited Budget was sired by Street Sense, the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner. With that kind of stamina on her top side, that makes her a contender off the bat. She stalked the pace nicely in the Oaks, but lacked the acceleration down the stretch to eclipse the pace setters and hold off a fast-charging Princess of Sylmar.
Unlimited Budget is big and that's why she's in here, says her owner, Mike Repole.
I think this one year where I think the fillies are as good as the boys. She ran a good race when she was third in the Kentucky Oaks, and two fillies out of that race, Midnight Lucky and Close Hatches, came back to run 1-2 in the Acorn. Unlimited Budget is a large filly, and when the 15 horses come out you’ll think she’s one of the colts. She also has a good mind for a mile and a half where she’ll settle.
You remember Palace Malice, right? He screamed to the lead in the Kentucky Derby and set blazing fractions before fading, fading, fading. But he's back for more off a five-week layoff.
He promises to be near the lead and if he can ration his speed accordingly, he could end up in the mix like his father did in 2007.
That year Rags to Riches, the filly, beat Curlin by a whisker. Curlin proved to be one of the great routers in the history of horse racing. Curlin was third in the Derby, won the Preakness and finished second in the Belmont. He just so happened to sire Palace Malice.
Nobody predicted what Palace Malice did in the Derby, but this time around could be different with the extra rest.
Overanalyze ran a spirited, though ultimately disappointing 11th in the Kentucky Derby. He won the Arkansas Derby back in April where he beat Oxbow, the winner of the Preakness three weeks ago.
There's some history on Overanalyze's side as well. In 2011, Stay Thirsty, owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, ran a gutsy second place riding the fence in the Belmont Stakes. Overanalyze is owned by Repole and trained by Pletcher.
So, should we just hand him a second-place check?
“Overanalyze is a Grade 1 winner, and he beat Oxbow by 5 ¼ lengths in the Arkansas Derby,” said Repole. “He ran a sneaky-good race in the Kentucky Derby where he was shuffled back but ran on, and I don’t think he loved the track.”
This son of Dixie Union won't face as much traffic as he did in the Derby and will have more gas in the tank to make his late-charging run.
Freedom Child recently won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park a few weeks ago. He won the race by getting an easy lead, then drawing clear in a hand ride to win by 13-1/4 lengths.
Tom Durkin, in his race call, said Freedom Child's win was "mud-nifcent" as Freedom Child romped over a sealed, muddy track.
And, as it stands, there's a 60 percent chance of rain in Elmont, New York this Saturday, as of Tuesday's forecast. The fact that he's proven in the mud at Belmont will significantly drop his odds, but, then again, maybe not. Feel free to swoop in and feel dang good if that's the case.
While few people want to see the race compromised by an off-track, no horse in the field will relish it like Freedom Child.
Frac Daddy is one of those horses you feel should run better than he does, thus he keeps eating dollar bills from your wallet like they're peppermints.
The son of Scat Daddy ran 16th in the Kentucky Derby while failing to get any sort of positioning in the race suitable to his running style. He's been training well, which has his trainer, Ken McPeek, feeling "freaky."
“I think the pace in the Belmont will suit him well, too. He drew outside in the Derby and couldn’t get position, and I don’t think he handled the slop. He’s worked on a dry track a couple times recently and worked freaky good. I think he’s got a big shot at it.”
The problem is the forecast; it could rain and that will might affect the way he moves over the track.
There's nothing flashy about Giant Finish. My feeling is he won't get a lick of respect despite beating nine horses in the Kentucky Derby while finishing 10th.
He gets Hall of Famer Edgar Prado in the irons and this can only help him. For you see, in 2004, Prado rode Birdstone so patiently that he successfully ripped the hearts out of everyone watching the Belmont Stakes.
Prado is a patient rider who knows how to ration speed. Giant Finish has a late kick and he will, no doubt, have pace to run at Saturday.
Prado has fallen on hard times as a rider not winning at the clip he's used to. This makes him all the more dangerous to rise up and swipe this race from an accomplished field of three-year-olds ... and heavily reward his backers.
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