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Meet Your 2008 Belmont Winner

While there are many column inches being spilled (and rightly so, it’s an interesting story) on Casino Drive, my pick for the Peter Pan (and the Belmont) is still Tomcito. We will see both horses in action tomorrow in the Peter Pan.

I think that Tomcito (pictured) has had some bad luck since his return to his native country from Peru; he was coming off a long layoff in the Florida Derby, only to run into Big Brown at something approaching full steam, and he apparently was no fan of the Polytrack in the Coolmore Lexington (despite a bullet work over the surface, but he did not have a great trip either). His trainer, Dante Zanelli, is hopeful this time around:

“It’s too bad, because I think he would have run a heck of a race in the Derby,” Zanelli said. “He’s been special since day one. The Lexington wasn’t that bad, considering he gave six pounds to everyone, and the Polytrack was not to his liking. The ride wasn’t what we expected, either. He didn’t run a terrible race, but he didn’t make any money.

“The bigger the track, the better,” Zanelli continued. “We are hoping to have a good showing on Saturday that will set us up for the Belmont. That’s the goal.”

Tomcito will be the high weight at Belmont this weekend as well, but I am encouraged by the jockey change to Cornelio Velasquez. We know he loves the Belmont distance, here’s hoping he loves the track.

As to the rest of the field, I can easily see Golden Spikes or Ready’s Echo hitting the board as well. I feel like I should be supporting Spark Candle, as he is out of one of my favorite mares, Serena’s Song, but I don’t know that he’s on the same level as the others in the race — which, of course, includes the much-hyped Casino Drive.

It’s easy to see why so much has been written about him already; he bears a strong resemblance to his big 3/4 sister*, Rags to Riches, and the prospect of his dam going for a hat trick in the Belmont is an exciting one. However, this is only going to be his second race; Bill Finley notes in his fine article (with photos) that the equine influenza outbreak in Japan prevented him from a second start there after his impressive maiden win. Given that, I don’t expect to see him at his peak tomorrow, but he should get a taste of running over the Belmont track.

I’ll say it now – your Belmont winner is in this race – somewhere. If you want to root for the underdog, you can compare Tomcito’s $7500 purchase price to Casino Drive‘s $950,000 tag – but either horse brings an exciting storyline to a Triple Crown that too many are prematurely conceding to Big Brown.

* I’ve had a few requests to explain what some of the more esoteric racing/breeding terms mean, and this is one of them. Casino Drive is a half-brother to Jazil, the 2006 Belmont winner, because they share the same dam, Better Than Honour. He is a 3/4 brother to last year’s victor, Rags to Riches, because her sire, AP Indy, is the sire of Casino Drive‘s sire, Mineshaft. Make sense? And if you were wondering why Tomcito is not considered a half-brother to Street Sense since they share the same sire, well…it just doesn’t work that way; only the mare counts from a terminology perspective (largely because the stallions have so very many offspring, but that’s another post).

7 comments to Meet Your 2008 Belmont Winner

  • Horse Racing Posters

    Big Brown is a Beast. He’s got a great chance at the elusive triple crown.

  • Fran Jurga

    Great headline, Lisa. You reeled me in. I expected to read about Harlem Rocker but you are picking Tomcito! I liked him too and his closing style in Florida. He should love Belmont, and hopefully we will see him in Saratoga too!

  • dana

    I’m with you re: Tomcito… tomorrow’s race should be great!

  • Valerie

    Wow! I’m impressed with Casino Drive after that victory today. But Tomcito! Ah, god I love that horse, but he’s still not getting it done. I guess I’m awaiting Edgar Prado riding him–seems like a natural pairing.

  • Fran Jurga

    Maybe a new Japanese-Peruvian rivalry will spice up the racing news for the Belmont. Isn’t the president of Peru Japanese, as I recall?

  • Superfecta

    Yeah, Tomcito keeps working bullets but not getting it done in races here – maybe he’s not in it mentally yet. I’d love to see Prado aboard too – and the Belmont is such a weird race that anything can happen.

    Fran, it’s even more complicated – Japan refuses to extradite the former president of Peru who fled there when it was clear he was going to be indicted for all sorts of corruption. I don’t think he’d ever been to Japan for any length of time (although his parents had emigrated from Japan) before taking refuge there!

    I did like Casino Drive today…

  • Fran Jurga

    Only on a TBA blog could political extradition and horse racing collide. Thanks for the insight! I knew vaguely that there was some sort of a problem (besides the Shining Path).

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