ManOWar Grade1 at Belmont

Joseph CiracoCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2009

A relatively small but talented field is scheduled to run in the 1 3/8 mile feature today at Belmont.

The early favorite appears to be Gio Ponti, who is three for four on the turf at Belmont.  This talented Christopher Clemente horse has never run 11 furlongs before but should have no problem handling this distance.

The horse to catch is Midships, who is trained by Robert Frankel and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza.  Midships is coming off a very impressive win in the Grade1 at Hollywood on June 6th.

The outcome of this race will be dictated by the early fractions that longshots Musketier and Marsh Side force Midships to run.

If Midships can run modest time for both six and eight furlongs, he'll have a real chance to hold off the late runners.

If the pace is fast, I expect the stretch to be jam packed with late closers while the speed horses will be fading.

The horse that I like to win this $500,000 race is actually Dancing Forever.  This six year ran an excellent race on May 31st, when he finished third.

Despite not winning, Dancing Forever had plenty of late energy and the added two furlongs should help this talented horse.

This is truly a great betting race.

I'm going to put Dancing Forever on top of Musketier (who I think will stalk the pace and could win), Midships, Gio Ponti and Quijano (6-for-6 at the distance).

The only horses that really don't have a shot are Marsh Side and Interpatation. 

At 20:1, Musketier is a fantastic play but due to the heavy speed in the race, a closer has to be the pick here.