The Belmont Stakes 2013 is just hours away. Now that the field is set and the horses are ready to get, it's time to make a prediction on who will win, who will place and who will show.
Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner, is the favorite at 3-1 odds, according to the Daily Racing Form. The horse, who holds the fifth position, will look to rebound from a disappointing Preakness Stakes in which he finished fourth.
The next favorite is Oxbow, the Preakness winner, who has 5-1 odds, according to the Daily Racing Form. Oxbow will probably struggle with the longer distance at Belmont but has a chance if he gets a clean break near the end.
Besides Orb and Oxbow, which horses have the best chance to reach the winner's circle? And which horses could round out the top three?
Read on to find out.
I will be predicting Freedom Child to win. Freedom Child, currently at 8-1 odds, is a fast horse with plenty of experience at Belmont.
The horse won the Peter Pan Stakes in May at Belmont by a startling 13 1/4 lengths and is one of two horses to have won previously at this track.
In addition, Freedom Child probably has the best pedigree of any horse in the field. His sire is A.P. Indy, who won the Belmont Stakes in 1992. Freedom Child's lineage goes back to great horses such as Seattle Slew and Secretariat.
Not too shabby.
The key to winning at this one-and-one-half mile long track is to not get out in front too quickly. Even the best horses lose something near the end of a long race, and Freedom Child will be no different.
Rather, the idea is to pick your spots. Freedom Child, riding from the second pole position, will need to break for the lead closer to the end of the race. He has fantastic speed, and if he is not cornered off near the rail, then he should have a clean break.
Look for Freedom Child to win, roaring from the back, and to make a nice payoff for wise bettors.
My prediction to place is Orb. The Kentucky Derby winner really struggled at Preakness, and the lessons learned from that race will benefit the horse greatly at Belmont.
At the Preakness, Orb was unable to get away from the rail and, because of that, had little room to get a clean break to take over the race. As his trainer Shug McGaughey explained to the New York Daily News:
In the Preakness, nothing went right. The one post—I really thought there would be more speed in the race and spread out to get good position. That didn’t happen. I’m sure when the other riders had him down inside they weren’t going to let him out, especially as slow as they were going, and I think the racetrack was different. It was very loose. It just wasn’t our day. I think if things go right on Saturday well see a different horse than we saw two weeks ago.
Orb will have the five post position, which should give him enough room to make a move. Horse racing is all about timing and space. A move towards the front needs to be done at the correct moment, but there also needs to be room for it to happen.
There was no room at the Preakness.
The horse will lurk in the background and hope that some of the frontrunners—horses like Palace Malice—fade. If that happens, and Orb gets a clean break, then there's no reason that Orb won't be towards the front near the end.
In fact, look for Orb to make it a really close race with Freedom Child. He'll lose, however, by just a nose.
Revolutionary will finish third in this race. The horse is not flashy, but his steadiness should serve him well.
The horse has finished in the top three in all seven of his starts. In addition, a switch to jockey Javier Castellano is wise, because he's been on board for the horse's last two victories.
Revolutionary has shown he can be successful in distance and is not bothered by track conditions.
His combination of his solid recent play, his steadiness and his ability to adapt to track conditions should keep him at the top of pack, and that will leave him in third place when all is said and done.