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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

June 6, 2008

How to Bet the Belmont Stakes

by Luckbox

Ten horses are about to run a race unlike any race they've ever run and likely unlike any race they will ever run again. Horses simply do not race 1 1/2 miles on dirt. It's just that simple. No major race in the United States goes that distance unless it's on turf, and even that is rare. Up until now, these 3-year old horses have rarely had an oppurtunity to go more than 1 1/4 mile, and that was only in the Preakness which ran 1 3/16 mile.

And that is one of the major reasons why we haven't seen a Triple Crown horse since Affirmed 30 years ago. In those three decades, 11 different horses arrived at the Belmont Stakes with a chance to make history. And all 11 lost. In 1988, Real Quiet lost by just a nose. In 1999, Charismatic lead in the final furlong but broke his leg and finished third. From 2002-2004, we had War Emblem, Funny Cide and Smarty Jones. All great horses, and none closed the deal.

So how does this help you bet the Belmont?

It doesn't really. It would be nice to say, "Well, no one wins the Triple Crown so Big Brown won't win." It's not that easy. As I've already said, this race is different. No horse can truly be prepared for what they'll be facing. So who is most prepared?

1 Big Brown: Enough has been written about just how good he is. Undefeated in 4 starts with the closest win being 4 3/4 lenghts in the Derby. One of only two horses in the field to post a triple digit Beyer speed figure. Seemingly had no trouble with the Preakness distance.
Morning Line: 2-5
Predicted Finish: 2nd

2 Gudalcanal: A surprise last-minute entry, this horse is the only in the field to have run in a 1 1/2 mile race. Last time out, Guadalcanal finished 2nd by a nose over the turf at Churchill Downs. But how much does experience really count here? Not nearly enough.
Morning Line: 50-1
Predicted Finish: 8th

3 Macho Again: In a weak Preakness field, this horse placed, 5 1/4 lengths behind Big Brown. Unfortunately for his owner, I believe that's the high-water mark for his career. This field is better.
Morning Line: 20-1
Predicted Finish: 5th

4 Denis of Cork: Halfway through the Kentuck Derby, this horse sat in 13th place. When the race ended, Denis of Cork was in third. It was an impressive stretch run although it doesn't necessarily suggest he is in any position to out-duel Big Brown. He will, however, be a popular choice for trifectas.
Morning Line: 12-1
Predicted Finish: 3rd

5 Casino Drive: I've written about this horse before. My Hot Belmont Tip from May 10th told you that this would be the horse to watch. Despite being lightly raced (just two career starts), Casino Drive is my pick. When horses lack real experience at a certain distance, it pays to look at breeding. Casino Drive's is impeccable. A sore left hoof is concerning (there is a slight chance he won't be able to run), but I'm confident he'll be on the track when tomorrow comes and he's far and away your best chance at getting a good price on a winner.
Morning Line: 7-2
Predicted Finish: 1st

6 Da' Tara: Sorry, just not a contender. At all. This horse has been completely overmatched by this level of talent every time out. Da' Tara would need a perfect run and a lot of luck to even factor in the superfecta.
Morning Line: 30-1
Predicted Finish: 10th

7 Tale of Ekati: Coming off a nice win in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, this horse seem primed to contend in the Derby. A fourth place finish may sound good, but Tale of Ekati was 11 lengths back of Big Brown. I don't see him fighting for a win tomorrow, but he could be in the mix from show on down.
Morning Line: 20-1
Predicted Finish: 4th

8 Anak Nakal: I'm not sure why, but this horse seems to be getting a lot of buzz going into this race. Seventh in the Derby and 5th in the Wood Memorial don't exactly suggest Anak Nakal is ready to win the Belmont. I'd be surprised if he made a strong push.
Morning Line: 30-1
Predicted Finish: 7th

9 Ready's Echo: Like Da' Tara, this horse is completely outclassed in this field. Last time out, he finished 6 1/2 lengths behind Casino Drive in the Peter Pan Stakes. It would take quite a step up to contend this time out.
Morning Line: 30-1
Predicted Finish: 9th

10 Icabad Crane: There's a little to like about this horse. His Beyer speed figures have climbed each of the last two races including a strong third place in the Preakness. I suppose with another step forward, Icabad Crane could be in the mix, but I just don't see it happening.
Morning Line: 20-1
Predicted Finish 6th


Big Brown is a great, great horse. As much as I detest trainer Rick Dutrow, it can't overshadow the talent Big Brown brings to the track.

(Digression. Why do I hate Rick Dutrow? It's not just that he's a loudmouth blowhard. It's that he's a cheater. From

And he's been fined or suspended at least once every year since 2000 for doping issues. In 2000, a barn search in New York produced "an injectible vitamin which is forbidden." In '01, a horse had excessive Lasix -- an anti-bleeding medication -- in its system. In '02, Dutrow "failed to follow Lasix procedures." In '03, a horse tested positive for Mepivacaine. From '04 through an '08 fine in Florida, there were citations regarding Lasix, Clenbuterol, Phenylbutazone and Oxyphenbutazone. He served a 60-day suspension in 2005 after two of his horses tested positive for banned substances and for a claiming violation. Then, in 2007, he served an additional 14-day suspension and was fined $25,000 for violating conditions of his suspension by having contact with his stable.

He puts his horses in danger by doing anything to win. Big Brown has been pumped with a steroid every month. It's a steroid that is currently banned in 10 states, but not in the states where Triple Crown races are held. But I digress...)

Big Brown will likely win the Triple Crown. I think that's fair to say. He'll go off at less than even money (I'm guessing no better than 1-5). But I'm not betting him. Big Brown was as close to a sure thing in the Preakness a few weeks back as you could possibly be. He raced against a weak field that was unprepared to challenge him. That's not the case this time around. Plus, as points out, there may be a real effort by other jockeys and/or trainers to prevent a Triple Crown winner.

In other words, put your money on Casino Drive.

Here's what I'm betting:
$20 Win: 5 Casino Drive
$10 Exacta Box: 5 Casino Drive/1 Big Brown
$2 Exacta: 5 Casino Drive with 3 Macho Again, 4 Denis of Cork and 7 Tale of Ekati
$1 Trifecta: 5 Casino Drive and 1 Big Brown with 5 Casino Drive and 1 Big Brown with 3 Macho Again, 4 Denis of Cork and 7 Tale of Ekati
$1 Superfecta: 5 Casino Drive and 1 Big Brown with 5 Casino Drive and 1 Big Brown with 3 Macho Again, 4 Denis of Cork and 7 Tale of Ekati with 3 Macho Again, 4 Denis of Cork, 7 Tale of Ekati and 10 Icabad Crane

That's a total of $70. I'll let you know how I make out!

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