The Smell of Horsecrap and Money: Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown Edition.

Featured, Sports and Bets — June 7, 2014 at 2:14 am by

The last time we had a Triple Crown winner was 1978.  Jimmy Carter was president, Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees was number one on the music charts, smoking cigs was still cool, and Eddie Murray was beginning his second season with the Orioles after winning rookie of the year honors in 1977.

That was a loooong time ago, babes.

In the Belmont of 1978, Affirmed beat Alydar again in a long stretch duel to win the Triple Crown.  (It’s crazy to think that if Alydar had been born one year later he probably would have won himself a Triple Crown too, he could just never beat Affirmed.)

Fast-forward to today.  California Chrome comes into the Belmont hotter than Scarlett Johansson cooking breakfast in your kitchen.  The talented colt has won six straight races by over 27 combined lengths, including three Grade 1 affairs and two of the most prestigious horseraces in America in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.  So far this year California Chrome has won his owners over $3 million dollars.

  How do you like your eggs, babes?

But can he beat Big Sandy and her challenging field of ten rivals?  So many talented and gifted horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, only to be denied at Belmont Park.  Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and Big Brown are the most recent to come up just short of the prize.  Their reasons for failure are many: distance limitations, fresh challengers, jockey error, and plain old bad luck are all to blame for the 36 year Triple Crown drought.  Horseracing history has been a bitch when it comes to the Belmont.

But that doesn’t matter now.  This is California Chrome’s time.  History and the fact that a horse hasn’t done this in a long time is not a handicapping tool.  All that matters is this particular horse against this particular field.  And in this field, California Chrome stands out.  It’s time for him to go take that crown like Biggie did when he proclaimed himself King of New York.  But more on California Chrome later.

The Belmont is the 11th race in a sick lineup of races.  Our picks are below.

Pimlico and the Maryland Jockey Club should take notes from the NYRA in regards to the Belmont’s undercard.  This day of racing rivals the Breeder’s Cup and it’s stacked with six Grade 1 races, two Grade 2 races, and one Grade 3.  All are being run for big money.  If you throw money into the races the competition will flock to the track like seagulls around a spilled bag of chips.  These high quality races are, of course, better for the casual fans, the gamblers, and the horsemen themselves.

But enough banter, let’s go get ’em….

Belmont Park 

Race 1- 96k ALW-  The favorites may be a little vulnerable here.  Bernardo is coming out of a horrific stakes performance and high price disappointment Forever Thing is coming off a year-long layoff.  Sure, if either fires were probably screwed, but they don’t call in gambling for nothin’.  Regardless, we’ll go with 6-1 shot #6 Catholic Cowboy.  He’s coming out of a second pace finish and his works may suggest a big step forward.  Second off the layoff angle in full effect.  Like jockey Irad Ortiz and love the aggressive early underdog play.  Pad the bankroll.  Boom.  Win bet on the #6.  Exacta bets with #6, #2, and #7.

Race 2 Easy Goer 150k- One of my favorite horses of the year, Kid Cruz, is in this race after a terrible Preakness run in which he barely lifted his feet. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Cruz get some time off, but trainer Linda Rice probably just feels that the Preakness didn’t take much out of Cruz because he was never really involved in that race.  I’m still going against him here.  The #5 Misconnect is coming off of a nice stalking win and is 2 for 2 on the Belmont surface.  Love the fact the JJ Castellano gets the call.  Should get first run at the speed.  Can he hold off #4 Kid Cruz and #7 Legend?  Risky….   Win bet on the #5

Race 3- Brooklyn G2- Stakes action gets started early.  #5 Ever Rider just missed in his last and it seems he’ll relish the extra distance this time.  Always in the dough when going a mile and 1/2.  Love proven horses in long distance races.  Gets Chrome’s jockey for this and Espinoza will get a warm up race at the daunting distance.  Plus the horse’s name sounds like it should be the title of a classic 80’s porn.  5-1 odds add to the appeal.  Win bet #5.  Exacta bets with #5, #2, #3, #4.

Race 4- Jaipur G3-  This race is full of turf talent, including Maryland legend Ben’s Cat.  I could just be happy that I’m getting him at 5-2 or better and bet him, but I’m feeling good about some early longshots.  The #6 Undrafted just missed in his last after a brutal start and a five wide trip.  Trending up in his form cycle and seems to be sitting on a big effort.  Stalk the leaders and pounce.  Risky bet in a wide open field.  Win bet #6

Race 5- Woody Stevens G2-  Social Inclusion decided to run here instead of the Belmont.  This horse oozes talent and I like this spot for him.  One turn and just under a mile should suit SI just fine.  This field has plenty of talent, but Social Inclusion still stands out and his May 31st workout is too obscene to ignore.  Backing the first favorite of the day.  Putting him with longshot #4 Meadowood, who looked great running at Pimlico 3 weeks ago, in an exacta.  Also like the #5 Coup de Grace.  Exacta bets #11, #4, #5.

Race 6- Acorn G1-  Here we go with the Grade 1’s.  Boooom.  All of these fields are loaded and the Acorn is no exception, even though the ubertalented Untapable isn’t entered.  That fact alone spells opportunity for this group.  The #3 Fiftyshadesofgold offers 8-1 value.  This miss lost to Untapable back in early May but rebounded nicely with a win.  A mile may be her limit, but at 8-1 we’ll gamble.  Improving Beyer in last and can rate the speedy favorite and her early company.  Plus, by picking her it gives me an excuse to put Gilbert Gottfried reading Fifty Shades of Grey into this post.  Comedy babes.  Heavy play.

Race 7- Ogden Phipps G1-  The Beholder/Princess of Sylmar/Close Hatches rivalry continues.  I’m taking Close Hatches this time.

Race 8- Just a Game–  This may be the biggest play of the day.  The #5 Coffee Clique came through for us on Derby day, sneaking up the rail to score her first Grade 2 victory.  Now she is enters even deeper waters.  I think she’s ready for the challenge.  Her form cycle is trending up, love her middle move and her late kick, and love the fact the JJ Castellano stays aboard her over the ML favorite.  Workouts are steady and impressive and she loves the distance. If she wins here, real big things await.  If her odds stay high, backers will be drooling.  Love. This. Horse. Win bet #5.  Multiple exacta and trifecta keys with her in first and second.  Make or break race.

Race 9- Met Handicap- Right now it doesn’t look like anybody can beat Palace Malice.  This horse is crushing all competition and is training lights fucking out.  Even stuck down on the rail I can’t see him losing today.  Everything about this horse screams Breeder’s Cup Classic.  It’s probably smart to try and beat him here and Goldencents seems like an overlay and so do Central Banker and Normandy Invasion.  But as of right now, I’m sticking with Pletcher’s big, bad, colt.

Race 10- The Manhattan-  This race is pretty damn confusing.  There are a ton of contenders in here, which means I’ll look for some value.  I could make a case to bet four or five of these to win, but I may just watch odds and play the best post time value.  As of right now I feel like the #4 Grandeur will offer the most economy.  I think I can get 6-1 or better on a horse with back class who loves the distance and is getting first time Lasix. Second time back in the States after a nice, welcome back, third place finish against a few of these.  Could be sitting on a big one.

Race 11- The Belmont Stakes-  It’s time for a Triple Crown winner.  I’ve been following and betting on California Chrome all year and I’m not going to leave him now.  He looks great in works and he seems up for the task.  This horse loves the track and loves to compete.  There are a few in here who could test him.  Wicked Strong seems to be sitting on a big race and will want the mile and 1/2.  Tonalist has a lot of talent and is coming off of a nice win.  Commanding Curve and Ride on Curlin could benefit from more track and clean trips.  But I don’t see it.  If this was any race on any other day, Chrome would seem obvious, but with history against him, he seems less obvious.  But he’s ready.  He’s got the talent and that push button speed and if that speed is played right again by Victor Espinoza, it will carry him to legendary status. The fact that we haven’t had a Triple Crown winner is almost flukey.  It’s time for CC to take it.  Here are my Belmont plays:

$40 exacta wheel- #2 California Chrome with #4 Commanding Curve and #9 Wicked Strong

$20 exacta- #2 California Chrome with #5 Ride On Curlin

These are not boxed, I’m taking a stand with California Chrome.

Whether he wins or loses, I will probably be openly weeping.  I love this fucking game and these horses.

Good luck to all and enjoy the races!

 

 

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