The Brock Talk

Friday, June 4, 2010

Brock Belmont Bet Swings Hard

To those who believe Ice Box was the best horse in the Kentucky Derby and that he will benefit from the additional quarter-mile distance of the “Big Sandy,” the Belmont must be an easy race to handicap. And that of course, is the reason he is the 3-1 favorite. Coming from the popular barn of Nick Zito doesn’t hurt the colt’s popularity either.

But Ice Box won’t get the fast Derby pace in the Belmont. In fact, I predict quite the opposite. The first half-mile of the Belmont is often a gallop. And sometimes the pace remains slow during the first mile. That puts a lot of pressure on a closer and his jockey and gives me enough ammunition to eliminate Ice Box.

So pace makes the race right? And First Dude will get to that easy, uncontested lead (even from the #11 post position) and gallop to the finish line.

Nope. I’m not betting that either. To beat First Dude, I’m incorporating the “bounce” handicapping theory. That is, I’m betting that he won’t repeat the Preakness performance in which he almost wired the field to run a gallant second to Lookin at Lucky. I’m not usually a “bounce” advocate, but First Dude ran a race that is significantly better than anything he produced prior to that Preakness. I have to believe he will regress at least somewhat off of that giant performance.

How do I beat Dwyer winner Fly Down then? I can’t. I think this Nick Zito trainee looks primed for a big performance in the Belmont. He has all of the home field advantage, which can sometimes be very important in the Belmont Stakes. He has a win over the track, New York top jockey John Velazquez and Zito.

So how I am going to justify betting against Fly Down? On value alone. With all of the New York support, he is likely to be over bet. And with an evenly matched field like this Belmont, value is my prime directive.

So that leads me to my top choice: Uptowncharlybrown. This horse has been pointed toward the Belmont Stakes since early this year by late trainer Alan Seewald and he is in able Belmont hands now in the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin. McLaughlin is a former D. Wayne Lukas assistant who won the 2006 Belmont with Jazil and I’m betting he will do it again here with Uptowncharlybrown.

His third-place finish in the Lexington was against a speed favoring racetrack that compromised his chances and the winner of that race, Exhi, came back to impressively win the Marine Stakes at Woodbine. Uptowncharlybrown also gets jockey Rajiv Maragh and all of his Belmont Park success and experience to negotiate the dynamics of the largest oval in North American racing. McLaughlin has also taken the blinkers off of Uptowncharlybrown, which should allow him to be much closer to the pace and within striking distance at the top of the stretch.

My other key horse – again swinging for the IRS window fences here a little bit – is Interactif, from the Kentucky Derby winning connections of trainer Todd Pletcher and WinStar Farm. No horse has ever won the Belmont Stakes from the number 12 post position, but I don’t think Interactif and jockey Javier Castellano will have any problem settling into a stalking position.

If he takes to the Belmont Park surface during the last half of the Belmont the way he has for the last two weeks of training, he is a prime candidate to win the Test of Champions at a decent price.
Because I’m looking for some bigger prices in the Belmont, I’m going to reduce my investments by playing exactas only. So I’m going to key my two upset contenders to run first or second with the three logical winners and betting favorites.

$2 Exacta (8 Bets. Total Cost = $16)
1st - 3-12
2nd – 3-5-6-11-12

$2 Exacta (8 Bets. Total Cost = $16)
1st – 3-5-6-11-12
2nd – 3-12

Total cost is $32.

We need #3 Uptowncharlybrown or #12 Interactif to finish first or second along with #5 Fly Down, #6 Ice Box or #11 First Dude completing the exacta. Note however, that if Uptowncharlybrown and Interactif finish first and second in any order, we hit the exacta twice.

Good luck Belmont fans.


John said...

I like to think First Dude's Preakness was a preview of coming attractions. He'll be the pace and if he's stealthy about it, he could get out there, then cruise along, and slip away to the wire before anyone else knows what happened. At least that's what I'm hoping.

As for a bounce, I disagree. If First Dude ran that good at Pimlico, he should be even better at vast Belmont Park with those wide sweeping turns, tailor made for a big guy like him.

After the big "Dude", I like Stately Victor, Ice Box, Drosselmeyer, and for sentiment, Uptowncharliebrown.

Best wishes and have fun!

Brock Sheridan said...

With all of the support going to Ice Box early, there is certainly enough value on First Dude now to take a shot. I'm really thinking about changing my ticket if he and Fly Down stay at these odds.

So you may have beaten me to the First Dude bandwagon John.

Stately Victor also scares me because I'm afraid the darn Blue Grass is now a pretty nice key race.

Good luck John.