First, the bad news – last year’s Belmont champ Summer Bird has been retired. It’s particularly unfortunate, as he seemed to be coming into his own toward the end of last season, just before the injury. Given the economy and the timing of his retirement (he’s essentially missed the North American breeding season), it seems that he legitimately did not heal properly and was poised for a comeback; it’s a shame. I’m still very grateful to him for making my experience at the Belmont last year a remuneratively-rewarding one – hopefully, he’ll enjoy his retirement.
In better news, the Belmont always has an interesting undercard, and while this may not be the starriest ever, it’s got some solid competition – here’s our take on each stakes race:
While the big names in this race may have been pointed to Triple Crown races earlier in the season, they’ve all found their place as talented sprinters. D’Funnybone and Discreetly Mine could both find the winner’s circle, but I like Eightyfiveinafifty – if he can remember which way to run.
Just A Game
While everyone has low prices on the morning line, including the interesting Phola and Cherokee Queen, I think Proviso and My Princess Jess will be the first two across the line.
While Custom for Carlos looks tough here, it’s a fairly open race. I’m backing Bribon to win.
It’s part of the Triple Tiara – again! And it’s a tough group of fillies: Amen Hallelujah is a deserving favorite, Tidal Pool has proven useful and I am a fan of the longish morning line odds on Crisp. Tanda could also pull a mild upset, but I suspect it will be Amen Hallelujah, followed closely by Crisp.
Gio Ponti, a horse who deserves considerably more coverage than he receives, is back in action in what looks like the most interesting race on the card (sorry, Featured Race!), with seven G1 winners in the lineup. This is no easy spot for him, though – his last race was the Dubai World Cup, and beyond the Dubai jinx, he’s probably not as fit as he might be. That leaves room for Court Vision and Take the Points, although I’m somewhat partial to Grand Couturier, who will be ridden by ‘Jockey Stud‘ Alan Garcia. Still, we should see Gio Ponti move forward, even if he’s not back in top form this time out.
Check back shortly for our Belmont Stakes analysis…