The Runner Sports

2017 Belmont Stakes Preview

After two exhilarating and grueling first legs of the Triple Crown, we’re on to the concluding stretch, a daunting 1 1/2 mile running of the Belmont Stakes; the Test of Champions.

The final jewel of the crown takes place at Belmont Park, located in Elmont, New York, just an hour’s drive east of downtown Manhattan. Also known as “The Championship Track,” Belmont has been the site of the concluding race to the Triple Crown since 1931, and has seen some of the finest horses in thoroughbred racing don its dirt, and habitat its paddocks.

With the allure of the Triple Crown dashed, plenty of interest gets drained from the event, but it still gets billed as one of the sport’s top purses and most impactful races on the calendar. Still, that lacking enthusiasm will only be heightened by the fact that neither the Kentucky Derby (Always Dreaming) or Preakness Stakes (Cloud Computing) winners will partake in this race.

As has been the case in this Triple Crown season, the day’s event might be defined by the quality of track. The Elmont area could see some early morning showers that dampen the track. That AM drizzle will give way to a partly cloudy day crawling up into the 80s by the time it’s all said and done. It’ll likely be the best conditions we’ve had in this circuit, but its presence cannot be entirely ignored either.  The area as a whole has seen a large amount of rain in the previous week, but nothing in the vicinity to cause a concern over a soaked track. If the sun can poke out early we might not even realize the type of weather the day began with.

 


Twisted Tom


Post #1

Owner: Cobra Farm Inc., R R Partners, and Head of Plains Partners LLC

Trainer: Chad C Brown

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Odds: 20-1

Twisted Tom comes in a winner in his last three races, which included wins in the Frederico Tesio Stakes and Private Terms Stakes. This will still represent a significant step in competition. Javier Castellano will want to keep him pretty close to the pace, but knowing the extended distance, doesn’t need to outright be the one dictating this race. There are some talented horses in this pack, but as long as the lone gelding in the field doesn’t tire too early, could be in solid enough position to out will others in the daunting stretch.

 


Tapwrit


Post #2

Owner: Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Robert V LaPenta

Trainer: Todd A Pletcher

Jockey: Jose L Ortiz

Odds: 6-1

Tapwrit comes in after a less than impressive 6th in the Kentucky Derby, finishing some 10 lengths behind winner Always Dreaming. It’s been back to back stinkers for this horse (also lagging behind in the Blue Grass Stakes). His last win came in March with the Tampa Derby, and previous to his last two runnings, had done nothing but impress. He’ll be solidly rested, although just one horse will enter this field having ran both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Can Jose Ortiz tap into the potential and speed we’ve seen from the colt? Todd Pletcher has a pair of winners here in Rags to Riches (2007) and Palace Malice (2013) and five second-place finishes, and whether it’s from Tapwrit or Patch breaking from post 12, he’s always a threat on the track where he built his legacy. This horse was purchased for a whopping $1.2 million, so seeing some extra returns here would no doubt be enjoyed.

 


Gormley


Post #3

Owner: Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S Moss

Trainer: John A Shirreffs

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Odds: 8-1

Like Tapwrit, Gormley will re-enter this Triple Crown circuit after having skipped the Preakness. Also like Tapwrit, he comes off a less than fantastic run at Churchill Downs. He’s been a horse that has responded well after poor runnings, coming back to win after each of the last two times he finished outside the money. He’s still not getting the love a typical Santa Anita Derby winner would normally receive. It might be the declining speed figures that are keeping most from jumping on this bandwagon in a wide open race, so the time is now to prove some naysayers wrong.

 


J Boys Echo


 Post #4

Owner: Albaugh Family Stable and Bobby Flay

Trainer: Dale L Romans

Jockey: Robby Albarado

Odds: 15-1

Always the showstopper, TV star and renowned chef Bobby Flay is buying into J Boys Echo, quite literally. On June 7, the Iron Chef bought a 25% interest in the contender. It marks the second straight year he’s done so quite late leading up to the Belmont Stakes. He must have heard some sweet echoes a year ago because he bought into Creator, who went on to sneak his way to a Belmont victory. We’ll see if Bobby Flay is a true savant at reading his horses and can make it happen a second time. If so, needless to say, the betting community would likely be hot on the horse trail of Flay moving forward.

After writing off a poor start in the Blue Grass, J Boys Echo found another rocky start at the Kentucky Derby and never really found himself in the race. If you jump back to the Gotham Stakes in March, there’s a lot to like. Can he finally be the horse to get Dale Romans on the board with a win? Romans has had some great runners here, including four horses to place, and another pair to show.

“It’s going to be a big field of horses, a lot of good horses,” Romans said of the Belmont in an interview with the Paulick Report. “You might not have the two marquee names out there right now, but you might have some horses who will be marquee names by the fall. I think a lot of people would like to say they were there when that horse had its breakthrough race, so people should show up. A star could be born. Maybe it’s J Boy.

“It’s a hard race to predict,” he added. “Unless there’s a stone-cold standout, it’s such an outlier for what horses have done or will do again. It’s definitely a great race, and hard to win. Hard to have the right kind of horse.”

 


Hollywood Handsome


Post #5

Owner: Stanley, Nacy, and Mark

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Odds: 30-1

Hollywood Handsome finished 28th in Kentucky Derby prep points, and will enter after having missed both the Derby and Preakness. He’s done little to wow en route to this field, but this is exactly the type of horse you have to watch out for to sneak into the money in this monster of a race. He’ll be stalking off the pace and rooting for things to go nuclear. Not quite talented enough to challenge in either of the other two Triple Crown races, he’ll make up ground and pass some tired horses in the stretch, maybe even enough to end up in some money. Florent Geroux has got one win in one ride atop this horse, and while he rode way closer to the pace in that win, he’ll likely have the read to set this horse up for success here.

 


Lookin At Lee


Post #6

Owner: L and N Racing LLC

Trainer: Steven M Asmussen

Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr

Odds: 5-1

There’s a ton of good reasons why Lookin At Lee is seeing steady money leading up to the big day. On a brutal track, he still managed to close four lengths to finish second in the Kentucky Derby. And while the 4th-place finish at Pimlico was a letdown, and he’ll no doubt be a bit fatigued as the only horse to run in all three Triple Crown races, he’s demonstrated a commendable work ethic. A bona fide closer, Lookin At Lee can live on the scraps of an exhausting race.

 


Irish War Cry


Post #7

Owner: Isabelle de Tomaso

Trainer: H Graham Motion

Jockey: Rajiv Maragh

Odds: 7-2

With some heavy hitters withdrawn, all eyes turn to Irish War Cry, even after completely getting gassed in the Kentucky Derby, finishing 10th. He’s showcased a lot of late race life up until that race, but the Derby is no doubt reason to be concerned. Could it have been the sloppy track? At this point, that’s what the favorite money is hoping for. He has a powerful race over Preakness winner Cloud Computing at the Wood Memorial, and if he can muster the bone shrilling screech he featured in that race, will be worthy of that favorite status. The other horses that used the sloppy track as an excuse that then ran in the Preakness didn’t do much redeeming in that race. Ride this at your own discretion.

 


Senior Investment


Post #8

Owner: Fern Circle Stables

Trainer: Kenneth G McPeek

Jockey: Channing Hill

Odds: 12-1

Everybody likes a sure bet or sound investment. At opening odds of 12-1, this might just be your meal ticket. If Channing Hill concerned you on the big stage before, you can forget about that after a solid ride to 3rd, closing some six lengths at the Preakness. While most were watching Always Dreaming fall off the Earth and the 13-1 Cloud Computing will its way to victory, most missed a stunning navigation into the stretch at Pimlico by this horse. Senior Investment was about eight wide and 10 lengths out coming into the final turn and still somehow managed to make up that ground. It’ll be a minefield of tiring horses here, and if Hill can start that move a little tighter to the corner, could easily threaten to finish in the money, if not win this race.


Meantime


Post #9

Owner: Silverton Hill LLC

Trainer: Brian A Lynch

Jockey: Mike E Smith

Odds: 15-1

Everybody loves a winner, and Meantime hasn’t finished outside the money in just four goes. He owns the lone distinction as the only horse to actually have raced at Belmont Park, though. Sure, it was a 2nd in the Peter Pan G3 Stakes, but it’s a positive to make note of nonetheless. He’ll be fighting for that pace early and throughout. Depending on how things break, even the most mundane of front-runners can find enough ground late to remain in the money. That’s not to say Meantime is a mundane horse, he’s just nothing overtly special.

 


Multiplier


Post #10

Owner: Wachtel Stable, George J Kerr, and Gary Barber

Trainer: Brendan P Walsh

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Odds: 15-1

The Preakness seemed like a very uncharacteristic race for Multiplier. He broke and never got to where he likes to sit, and the result showcased that. It wasn’t even as though the field crashed in on him having drawn the rail. The life just wasn’t there early, resulting in him hanging back a bit too far to make a worthwhile move on. His position in the race never really changed. He rode the rail some lengths off the front pack until the stretch where he pulled into the middle to create some space. Can this horse pass exhausted front runners? Possibly. He didn’t feature any extra kick in the stretch last time around, so it’d be wise to assume the same can be said this time around. Where does that get him? Likely nothing worse than within the top six of this field.

 


Epicharis


Post #11

Owner: Carrot Farm Co.

Trainer: Kiyoshi Hagiwara

Jockey: Christophe Lemaire

Odds: 4-1

Epicharis looks to bring a new international flair to the Belmont Stakes. He’ll vie to become the first Japanese-bred horse to win the big race. And that’s not just big news for the attempt, it brings in a whole other market of viewers, and most important to the New York Racing Association, a huge market of bettors. He’s run just five times but done nothing but impress. He’s got wins to show for in all except the UAE Derby, where he finished a nose behind Thunder Snow (who did not finish in the Kentucky Derby after bucking immediately after breaking from the post). He has not raced since March in that UAE Derby. Travel for these international stars is quite tasking, and he’s already shown some signs of issues. He did not run Wednesday and was being treated for lameness in his foot. His actual running of this race very much remains in question, and will be something to monitor. Epicharis received 2 grams of phenylbutazone (bute) via an IV; bute is an anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal medication used for various ailments.

The good news is that if he runs, he represents a real contender. He’s won in a variety of ways, closings lengths and torching paces. His pedigree is top-notch, and he’s raced on some big stages. Since 2002, Post 11 has seen three winners. Health simply remains the biggest factor for what could be the x-factor horse Saturday. We likely won’t see the full potential of this horse, and that’s a damn shame.

 


Patch


Post #12

Owner: Calumet Farm

Trainer: Todd A Pletcher

Jockey: John R Velazquez

Odds: 12-1

The one-eyed wonder will return to action after passing on the Preakness, a common trend for Pletcher’s non-Derby winners. Love it or hate it, it yields results. The question is will the added rest even factor into a horse that was simply outclassed in the Derby? He could be a factor in setting the pace, but outside of that, we’ll see what becomes of this colt. Again, he’ll break from the far post with all the other horses starting on his blind side, something that by simple logic just can’t be a fantastic fact for a sensory deprived horse. Sure, horses wear blinders and their attention is focused on what’s in front, but there’s got to be something to say for a horse who’s already working on half the field of vision of his competitors, not being able to see them as he closes in until he can feel their very presence.

 

Betting

  1. Senior Investment
  2. Lookin At Lee
  3. J Boys Echo
  4. Epicharis
  5. Irish War Cry
  6. Multiplier
  7. Hollywood Handsome
  8. Patch
  9. Meantime
  10. Twisted Tom
  11. Tapwrit
  12. Gormley

 

J Boys Echo – Win (Let’s see if Bobby Flay knows what he’s doing.)

Senior Investment/Lookin At Lee/ J Boys Echo – Trifecta Box

Epicharis – Win

Senior Investment/J Boys Echo – Exacta

 

Be Smart – Playing the Horses – Wager Responsibly

For many people, playing the horses is exciting and entertaining. They make thoughtful decisions about spending time and money.

  • Do not “chase” losses. Accept them as the cost of entertainment.
  • Use extra income to wager, not money needed for everyday expenses.
  • Set a time limit.
  • Balance playing the horses with other leisure activities.
  • Play the horses for entertainment, not as a way to make money.

Responsible wagering is what most people practice on a daily basis. For some, however, wagering or gambling becomes a serious problem that they are unable to control. This can lead to a state of compulsive or pathological gambling. Pathological gamblers cannot resist the temptation to gamble; they cannot stop regardless of their jobs, families or anything else.

If you or someone you know needs help for a gambling problem, call today.

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Tyler Arnold

Tyler Arnold

I am the editor-in-chief of The Runner Sports. I watch more sports than is probably determined healthy and enjoy talking about them all. I am a firm believer in there being a "dropped peanut surcharge" at the ballpark when it's a good throw. Thanks for the read.
Tyler Arnold