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It Ends Here…

Belmont Real Quiet, not quite.

Before I begin, I must apologize to the six of you that read the Churchill picks, for I will be in the city of Davenport, Iowa (immortalized in the movie Tommy Boy…”22 milez away”) enjoying a wedding and most probably missing history. That being said, maybe my bitterness in missing the moment is seeping into my handicapping (not handicapped, contrary to popular opinion) brain because I believe Big Brown will get caught in the stretch. Two reasons for this: 1. I don’t like what I’m hearing about his foot. Say what you want about the weak field of three-year-olds, but this is no race to be entering with any type of injury. 2. This is a tough, tough race, and as Rock Hard Ten and Eddington did to Smarty Jones (watch it here), there are horses out here that are just in it to beat Big Brown, not win the race. So, here are a plus and minus for each horse (in their predicted order of finish):

Horse (Trainer, Jockey, Last Equibase Speed Figure, place finish, race, post, odds)

1st: Denis of Cork (Carroll, Albarado, 103, 3rd, Kentucky Derby, #4, 12-1)

+: gave his best run in Louisville, coming from last to finish third in the Derby and has had five weeks to prepare for this, and that extra work cannot be underrated

-: his flight has been delayed, so he will end up in NY a day later; also, 8.25 lengths is a tough margin to overcome

2nd: Big Brown (Dutrow, Desormeaux, 114, 1st, Preakness Stakes, #1, 2-5)

+: not going to belabor this, on paper he’s the best horse

-: again, his hoof isn’t %100, no matter what Buttrow says; also, like I said, other horses (i.e. Macho Again, Da Tara) may go after him at the jump

3rd: Casino Drive (Fujisawa, Prado, 107, 1st, Peter Pan Stakes, #5, 7-2)

+: the proverbial “wild card”; only his third race ever, but he has looked great in both victories, and he came roaring to win the Peter Pan (viewable here); also, his mama is also the dam of the last two Belmont winners (Jazil and Rags to Riches)

-: a horse can’t win a race as grueling as the Belmont in his third start…period.

4th: Macho Again (Stewart, Gomez, 107, 2nd, Preakness, #3, 20-1)

+: found a way to finish 2nd in the Preakness, and the pilot switch to Gomez in HUGE; this gives him the home-court advantage with the most successful jockey in the world in terms of earnings

-: only 3-3-0 in nine career starts, so he’s inconsistent and can throw in some clunkers; he may bounce off his big effort, and it wasn’t like he was closing on the big fella

Tale of Ekati (Tagg, Coa, 99, 4th, Kentucky Derby, #7, 20-1)

+: paid in the super for the Derby, and the rest should help; recent bullet at 4f (46.84) on May 20

-: still, finished over 11 lengths behing the big guy in the Derby and don’t see how he can outrun Denis of Cork coming off of the same amount of rest (5 weeks)

Ready’s Echo (Pletcher, Velasquez, 99, 3rd, Peter Pan Stakes, #9, 30-1)

+: ran great late in the Peter Pan, and the distance should be a plus; can’t disrespect connections

-: very inconsistent; biggest win was a 24K maiden at Gulfstream on March 5

Icabad Crane (Motion, Rose, 106, 3rd, Preakness, #10, 20-1)

+: lineage relishes 1.5 miles, and his grandpa AP Indy won it in ’92; nice speed figure in the Preakness

-: I continue to rewatch the Preakness, (right here) and it just doesn’t seem like he would ever get there; plus, even his trainer is already talking like a true loser: “I think somehow Big Brown has to stub his toe for any of us to beat him (in the Belmont), but there is a chance of that happening,” said Motion. “Obviously, we’re all looking to beat him, and we all realize that’s going to be a tall order, and it would be great to get a piece of it if we can’t beat him.”

Anak Nakal (Zito, Leparoux, 94, 7th, Kentucky Derby, #8, 30-1)

+: Zito broke hearts a few years ago with Birdstone, and his sire is Victory Gallop (must see below), who might as well have been wearing a #32 Duke jersey with the way in which he broke hearts in the 1998 Belmont; so, he is connected to two huge Triple Crown world-beaters

-: other than posterity, he’s got nothin’ goin’ for him; missed the board on all 4 of his 3-yr-old races and his last speed fig is the slowest in the field

Guadalcanal (Seitz, Castellano, 2nd, Churchill maiden, #2, 30-1)

+: bred for this distance, I guess

-: HAS NEVER WON A RACE IN HIS LIFE

Da Tara (Zito, Garcia, 107, 2nd, Barbaro Stakes, #6, 30-1)

+: decent speed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s just in here to make it tough on Big Brown…that’s part of the game

-: he has won once in seven starts, in the slop at Gulfstream for 25K

So, there you go, just don’t come cryin’ to me when your house mortgage gets run down in the last furlong. In this last youtube clip, I can’t get over how certain I am that Real Quiet wins this race every time I watch it. It makes the Smarty Jones loss seem like a blow out. Thus, nothing is certain at a mile and a half:

Article written by Broseph