For a printable, PDF version of the graded line for Belmont Stakes 149 by The Green Sheet, click HERE.
For a printable, PDF version of the analysis for Belmont Stakes 149 by The Green Sheet, click HERE.
Belmont Park: Saturday, June 10, 2017
The Belmont Stakes (G1) presented by NYRABets
Post Time: 6:37 P.M. Eastern
Television: 5:00-7:00 P.M.—NBC
National weather service forecast for Elmont, New York:
Friday night, June 9: Mostly clear with a low around 63. SW winds 7-13 MPH.
Saturday, June 10: Isolated showers and thunderstorms after 12:00 P.M. (Eastern). Mostly sunny with a high near 83. SW winds 7-17 MPH. Chance of precipitation is 20%
The complexion of this year’s renewal of the Belmont Stakes (G1) has had some dramatic twists and turns in the days leading up to the 12-furlong “Test of a Champion”, with the late defection of pre-race favorite Classic Empire and the lingering foot issues surrounding the highly regarded Japanese raider EPICHARIS (JPN).
With that in mind, it seems as if the New Jersey–bred IRISH WAR CRY has landed in the proverbial catbird seat. The chestnut son of Curlin is the deserved 7-2 morning line favorite and looks like a solid play, as he possesses the coveted stalking running style and should get a great trip tracking the free-wheeling MEANTIME. His effort in the Kentucky Derby (G1) on the first Saturday in May was better than it looks at a cursory glance on paper, as he broke from the 17-hole, came in at the start and was hung out wide over a “wet-fast”, sealed racetrack that had a pronounced inside speed bias, and he was in the hunt at the three-sixteenths pole before tiring in the final stages of the race. He comes into this heat fresh for trainer Graham Motion and is sitting on a solid six-furlong breeze in 1:14 flat at Fair Hill seven days ago; choice.
It’s true that SENIOR INVESTMENT is a deep closer in a mile-and-a-half race that typically favors stalking types, but the pace may be quicker than it shakes out on paper—especially if EPICHARIS (JPN) runs and presses MEANTIME and GORMLEY, who has flashed :22 and change speed in the past sprinting, may be close to the front runners than one expects. This chestnut son of Discreetly Mine ran a big race at nearly 32-1 when stepping up to grade-one company in the Preakness Stakes (G1), as he had to steady at the three-eighths pole but finished well in the six-path to be a good third behind Cloud Computing, beaten four lengths and change for all the money. He has won four of his past six starts and seems to be peaking at the right time for trainer Kenny McPeek, who won this race in 2002 with the 70-1 longshot Sarava. He’s an overlay at 12-1 on the morning line; contender.
The Southern California invader GORMLEY, like the top choice, comes into this year’s renewal of the Belmont Stakes (G1) fresh and had to break from the parking lot (18-hole) in the Kentucky Derby (G1) 34 days ago. The bay son of Malibu Moon ran an admirable race in Louisville, as he put in a nice run from the three-eighths pole to the three-sixteenths pole, then was carried out in deep stretch by Practical Joke before finishing ninth of 20 while four-wide over an inside-speed biased racetrack, to be beaten 14 lengths and change by Always Dreaming. He’s a feast-or-famine type, as he either wins or doesn’t run well, but he has won four-of-seven starts, including two grade-one events. His biggest attribute in this race is his versatile running style, as he’s a handy fellow that has won on the front end and from off the pace. I like his recent stamina-oriented A.M. moves and his three losses have come at the hands of Always Dreaming, the brilliant Mastery, and Classic Empire. He’ll be a good price on the tote board; threat.
The gray TAPWRIT is the “wise guy” play in this year’s Belmont Stakes (G1), primarily off his flashy score in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, where he demonstrated a nice turn of foot to beat a suspect field by open lengths, and off the fact that he has had trouble at the start in his past two races, which compromised his chances. The son of Tapit (sire of last year’s Belmont winner Creator) is yet another entrant in this heat that had to break from a wide post over an inside speed-favoring strip in the Kentucky Derby (G1), where he seemed to be distracted in the gate, shaking his head, then was shut off when they sprung the latch and was forced inward several paths. He then loped around the “wet-fast” strip at Churchill and was picking off tired horses in the stretch once jockey Jose Ortiz—rightfully—got him over to the “Golden Rail”. He acted in a similar fashion in his penultimate effort in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), where he had his head held awkwardly high in the gate before the start, broke a step slow, then was forced to come from off the pace in a race that had no early lick on paper. At the end of the day, his wins have come against ordinary competition, but he should get a good mid-pack stalking trip and will try to get into the hunt in the neighborhood of five-sixteenths pole using the turn of foot he produced in the Tampa victory; more interested as the price increases.
Header image: “Walking Ring, Greentree Stable, Saratoga,” oil on panel by Vaughn Flannery (American, 1898 – 1955)