Come Saturday, June 8, a field of 14 horses and their jockeys will race their hearts out in an effort to win the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes.
Orb, Revolutionary and Oxbow are the heavy favorites heading into the 2013 "Test of Champions," but there are other legitimate contenders with a chance to win the final leg of the Triple Crown.
The longest race of the three by far, the Belmont Stakes is a grueling mile-and-a-half test of endurance, speed and strategy.
After Wednesday's draw for post position, the field has been set, as noted by the Belmont Stakes' official Twitter account:
None of the favorites drew unfavorable positions, and this race is setting up to be an all-out war in which any horse could come away with the wreath of carnations.
Here is a closer look at the field for this year's Belmont Stakes:
|1||Frac Daddy||Alan Garcia ||Ken McPeek ||30-1|
|2||Freedom Child ||Luis Saez ||Tom Albertrani||8-1|
|3||Overanalyze||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||12-1|
|4||Giant Finish||Edgar Prado||Anthony Dutrow||30-1|
|5||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey||3-1|
|6||Incognito||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Kiaran McLaughlin||20-1|
|7||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||5-1|
|8||Midnight Taboo||Garrett Gomez||Todd Pletcher||30-1|
|9||Revolutionary||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||9-2|
|10||Will Take Charge||Jon Court||D. Wayne Lukas||20-1|
|11||Vyjack||Julien Leparoux||Rudy Rodriguez||20-1|
|12||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher||15-1|
|13||Unlimited Budget||Rosie Napravnik||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|14||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart||10-1|
Odds courtesy of BelmontStakes.com as of Wednesday, June 5.
As you can see, there is a huge disparity between the favorites and long shots, as far as oddsmakers are concerned. This doesn't mean some of the horses with long odds won't win the race, however. Remember, Oxbow was a 15-1 long shot before he won the Preakness Stakes in wire-to-wire fashion.
Good horses don't always get short odds.
With that in mind, here's a look at a few long-shot horses in this year's Belmont with a legitimate chance to win.
Frac Daddy: Post No. 1 (30-1 Odds)
After finishing in second place behind Overanalyze in mid-April, Frac Daddy was one of the horses considered to have a chance at winning this year's Kentucky Derby. Instead, a 16th-place finish at Churchill Downs put a damper on future expectations for this horse.
It's no surprise then that Frac Daddy has the longest odds of any horse in the field besides Giant Finish and Midnight Taboo.
Historically, starting from the No. 1 post means good things for horses at Belmont Park. In all, 23 horses have gone on to win after starting from the inside—by far the most from any one spot in the history of the race, according to belmont-stakes.info.
Lately, however, the No. 1 post hasn't been lucky. It's been 10 years since the No. 1 spot has produced a winner. As a result, trainer Ken McPeek has instructed jockey Alan Garcia to get Frac Daddy going early:
Frac Daddy drew the #1 Post Position. Instructions to Alan Garcia are to SEND him to the lead. We are going to role the dice!!— Kenny McPeek (@KennyMcPeek) June 5, 2013
If Garcia can get out in front with Frac Daddy, it's not inconceivable that the duo could do what Oxbow and Gary Stevens did at the Preakness and win in wire-to-wire fashion. According to DRF's Mike Welsch, the horse "looked very sharp" in a recent training session:
Frac Daddy went in :25.52 from the 1/4 pole to the wire while "galloping" 1 1/8 miles from the mile pole in 2:09.57. Looked very sharp.— Mike Welsch (@DRFWelsch) June 5, 2013
Of course, there's always a chance that Frac Daddy can't get off to the good start that McPeek is hoping for, but with 30-1 odds, there's no reason not to "roll the dice."
Palace Malice: Post No. 12 (15-1 Odds)
Like Frac Daddy, Palace Malice didn't perform up to expectations at the Kentucky Derby, finishing in 12th place. This horse had just come off an impressive second-place finish at the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in April before failing miserably at Churchill Downs.
There are a couple of things that trainer Todd Pletcher has done to give his horse a better shot of winning this race.
Palace Malice won't be wearing blinkers at Belmont Park and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, according to Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell (per the Miami Herald):
The blinkers that jazzed him up in the Kentucky Derby come off and we anticipate no problem with pace or distance. He always rated kindly in previous races, and he will be in good hands with Mike Smith.
Pletcher has been pleased with Palace Malice's work of late, as he related to HRTV:
"Haven't had too many horses gallop-out like he did," Pletcher said of Palace Malice's strong gallop-out after Monday's work for Belmont.— HRTV (@HRTVinsider) May 30, 2013
With a bit of luck and some skillful work from Smith atop Palace Malice, this is a horse that could shock the world on Saturday.
Golden Soul: Post No. 14 (10-1 Odds)
While 10-1 isn't exactly huge long-shot odds, there are five other horses being considered before Golden Soul in this race.
Handicapper Larry Zap has been watching horses for a long, long time. He sees Golden Soul as a horse that is "crying for 12 furlongs":
14. Golden Soul- if there is a horse in this years #Belmont...that looks to be crying for 12 furlongs...well, this is him-looks very healthy— Larry Zap (@larryzapeye) June 5, 2013
Golden Soul was charged hard at the end of the Kentucky Derby and kept up with Orb as they crossed the finish line. It's fascinating to think about how the two of them may have finished had there been two more furlongs in the race, which is what they'll be facing at the Belmont.
Don't be surprised if Golden Soul is able to duplicate what he did at Churchill Downs through 10 furlongs. After that, it's anyone's guess as to how the race will unfold.
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