Derby Prep Alert
Derby Prep Alert

June 9, 2017Sponsored by BRIS, our Preferred Past Performance Provider

Sponsored by BRIS, our Preferred Past Performance Provider

It’s been a long road since mid-February, but we hope you’ve enjoyed the ride and even cashed a few tickets along the way!

Have a great time, cash plenty of tickets and we’ll see you next year!

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News About the Contenders

Sunday
Blood-Horse: Tapwrit in Good Order After Belmont Triumph
Brisnet: Belmont Stakes 149 Trainer & Jockey Quotes
DRF: Watchmaker: So far, this crop of 3-year-olds highly inconsistent
TRC: Under-appreciated Tapwrit rams home the lesson of the Belmont

Saturday
Blood-Horse: Epicharis Out of Belmont Stakes
DRF: Statement from Epicharis trainer Hagiwara
DRF: Early morning Epicharis update: remains runner in Belmont, pending mandatory vet exam

Friday
Blood-Horse: Epicharis Bypasses Training Again at Belmont Park
Blood-Horse: Epicharis Does Not Train After Lameness Treatment
Blood-Horse: Bobby Flay Buys Into Belmont Contender J Boys Echo
Blood-Horse: Conquest Mo Money Injured, ‘Doubtful’ for Stephens
Blood-Horse: True Timber Spikes Fever, Will Miss Belmont Stakes
DRF: Epicharis still intended for Belmont; merely walked shedrow today (Friday)
DRF: Epicharis has glue-on shoe on right front
DRF: Classic Empire’s defection a double disappointment
DRF: Watchmaker: Appreciate Cloud Computing’s Preakness win
DRF: Belmont Stakes: Lookin At Lee last one dancing

Belmont Stakes

Belmont Park, Saturday June 10, post time: 6:37 pm ET
1 1/2 miles (12 furlongs)

2017 Belmont Stakes Replay

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2017 Belmont Stakes News & Recaps

2017 Belmont Stakes Preview
The last jewel of the Triple Crown has confounded horse and handicapper in recent years. The Belmont has yielded a motley assortment of winners that defies categorization. The so-called “Test of the Champion” hasn’t been too kind to favorites either – only two (Afleet Alex and American Pharoah) have won the last thirteen runnings among a smattering of tote board shockers like Ruler on Ice ($51.50), Birdstone ($74.00) and Da’ Tara ($79.00).

Irish War Cry inherits morning line favoritism at 7-2 after Classic Empire was scratched following a return of the foot issues that have troubled his 3-year-old campaign.  In the Derby, Irish War Cry attended the fast pace while wide on both turns, but he was empty in the stretch, finishing a distant tenth.  That effort was a carbon copy of his Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, in which he was diminished when attending a fast pace.  While early speed is generally an asset in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes, it could fairly be said that Irish War Cry is a horse now exposed, that needs everything to go his way up front early if he is to do his best running late.  The presence of other early speed in here in Gormley, Meantime and Twisted Tom will not make his task any easier, but given the right trip, he has every right to be the favorite.

Japanese-bred EpicharisSCRATCHED – ships in all the way from Japan after finishing a nose short of Thunder Snow in winning the Group 2 UAE Derby 11 weeks ago.  He’s second choice at 4-1 on the morning line, but one would think with the recent news of lameness, his price will drift upward.  Even if lameness was not an issue, 4-1 is an awfully short price to take on a horse that has not raced in two and a half months and that has shipped literally all around the world.  While we don’t have much to gauge his chances here since Thunder Snow essentially did no running in the Derby, I have to think between the shipping, the layoff and the lameness, it’s all too much to overcome especially at the morning line price.

Lookin At Lee clunked up for fourth in the Preakness much the same way he clunked up for second in the Derby.  He’s a stone-cold closer, and that’s typically not the successful Belmont Stakes running type.  There’s a jockey switch to Irad Ortiz, the same switch for these connections that last year resulted in Creator winning the Belmont for Lookin At Lee’s trainer Steve Asmussen, so there should be a change in strategy to keep Lookin At Lee a bit closer to the pace.  However, Lookin At Lee is no Creator.  Creator had a troubled Derby after winning the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, and Lookin At Lee has just two wins, and those came last summer at sprint distances.  While he’s a dependable bottom-of-the-exotics type, his 5-1 morning line price will be the lowest price he’d go off at this year.  A tough ask at the price.

Tapwrit ran on late on the best part of the inside-favoring track on Derby day to finish sixth after encountering some trouble early.  His grinding running style is tailor-made for the Belmont, which is usually won by one-paced types, but there should be pause considering that he has not moved forward off his best form that saw him winning back-to-back graded stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.  Still, at one point on the Derby trail, he was considered to be one of the favorites, and though his flat efforts in the Grade 2 Blue Grass and the Derby could be signs he’s not up to the demanding 12-furlong distance, the price figures to be right to give him another chance.

Gormley, like Irish War Cry, attended the fast early pace in the Derby before swinging wide and fading to ninth on the worst part of the track.  Like Irish War Cry, he’d won a pair of graded stakes heading into the Derby, which culminated for Gormley with a win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.  While Irish War Cry is the morning line favorite, Gormley is fifth choice here – a difference in price that illustrates how hard it has been for bettors to separate these horses on this year’s Triple Crown trail.  Like Tapwrit, the price figures to be right on a horse that can put his tactical speed to best effect here against a group similar in accomplishments to those in his Santa Anita Derby win.  

Crowd favorite and one-eyed wonder Patch is back off a flat Derby run that saw the usual trouble for a horse starting in post 20, and he was subsequently bumped around during the race.  His second place finish in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby was pretty good for a horse making only his third career start, and there are two other horses out of that race that return in the Belmont, Hollywood Handsome and Senior Investment, and Patch finished in front of both of them in the Louisana Derby.  Once again, he’s marooned off in the far post, but there are a couple things to like.  For one, he’s still has a right to move forward with this being just his fifth start, and for another, he does possess some tactical speed that should help him gain position. He figures to be bet again, as he was in the Derby, strictly on his one-eyed wonder story, so tread carefully and check the tote before committing.

Senior Investment closed into a fast early Preakness pace to finish third at 31-1.  It was a marked improvement for a horse that was no threat in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby before closing from well off the pace in a win in the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland in mid-April.  While he’s shown slight improvement in each start this spring, he’s the type of closer that needs everything just right to win, and he will still need another step forward here.

J Boys Echo was a Derby no-show after being bounced around at the start and never making any serious threat while finishing 15th.  His win in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct in March has since been flattered by Cloud Computing’s win in the Preakness, as the Preakness winner finished second behind J Boys Echo in the Gotham.  Still, that was just Cloud Computing’s second start while J Boys Echo had already run in graded stakes, so the arc of these two horses is decidedly different with J Boys Echo not moving forward since that win as the distances have increased.  Can’t fault those looking for a price horse and landing on him here, but it’s hard to overlook the poor form of his last two efforts.

Multiplier ran about as expected in the Preakness when he closed from off the fast pace to finish a non-threatening sixth.  He won the Grade 3 Illinois Derby in similar fashion two starts back.  Once again, he’s a closer in a race with other, better closers in a race that historically is not favorable to closers.  Still, he’s another like Patch and Meantime, in that he’s lightly raced and open to improvement, so if you fancy he’s got another step forward to make, he’s one to consider at a long price.

Meantime couldn’t hang on when setting a moderate to slow early pace on this track four weeks ago in the sloppy going of the Grade 3 Peter Pan.  Once again, he figures to be forwardly placed, but he will have to improve dramatically to win this, and the presence of classier early speed should make his work that much harder.

Twisted Tom has won three straight races including a pair of listed overnight stakes at Laurel.  He’s another like Meantime that figures to be forwardly placed early and is lightly raced and may well improve, something he will need to do to factor late here.  Hollywood Handsome was not a threat in two tries in graded stakes earlier this spring before getting back on track with a win in a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs last month. He’s the longest shot on the morning line at 30-1 and deservedly so, considering his past efforts at the graded stakes level.

Chris Rossi