Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ice Box and First Dude Lead Average Field in the Belmont

Belmont Park - Elmwood, NY

A steller lineup of six stakes races with four of those being Grade 1 including the return of Gio Ponti highlight an outstanding thirteen race card on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park today. Coverage of the Belmont under card can be found on ESPN today from 11:00 - 4:00 Central and then moves to ABC from 4:00 - 6:00 Central for coverage of the Belmont itself.

Belmont Stakes - Grade I - Purse $1,000,000 - Surface: Dirt - Distance 1 1/2 Miles
The same can't be said for the Belmont itself as with Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky both absent and no Triple Crown on the line for the fifth time in the last seven years 2010 has produced a rather average field of twelve to contest the 142nd running of the race that is called "Test of The Champion". Derby runner up Ice Box and Preakness runner up First Dude are getting the attention but several in the field could win.

Ice Box - Post 6 - Morning Line 3/1
He has been very consistent and is the closer type that does well in this race in a large field. He won the Florida Derby in March and after being stopped cold behind horses at the the head of the stretch he was charging down the lane to close 7 lengths on Super Saver in the Derby. Zito knows a bit about winning this race as he is going for his 3rd win in the last 5 years here today. Jose Lezcano rides for Nick Zito and his top owner Robert LaPenta.

First Dude - Post 11 - Morning Line 7/2
He led the Preakness while in a dual the entire race but was unable to hold off Lookin At Lucky in the end. He has been a solid performer who has hit the board in 6 of 7 career races but his only win came in a Maiden race. He looks to be the lone speed today and could be hard to catch if that is the case and if the rider uses that advantage wisely. Ramon Dominguez rides for Dale Romans.

Fly Down - Post 5 - Morning Line 9/2
He is the second Zito horse in the race and has a win and a third in two starts at Belmont Park. He has been very consistent but ran a huge race in winning the Dwyer by 6 lengths and earning a by far lifetime best Beyer in his last. As always, this means he could either be ready for a bounce off that effort or he could be sitting on another huge race again today. A bullet work at Saratoga last Sunday and Zito training indicates he'll be ready. The pick up of Johnny V as the pilot also is a plus and he also has a closer running style. Johnny Velasquez rides for Nick Zito.

Drosselmeyer - Post 7 - Morning Line 12/1
He ran second in the Dwyer to Fly Down after a troubled trip in his last and has been very consistent in hitting the board in 7 of 8 lifetime races. He is a high expectations son of Forty Niner but the breeding on his mother's side indicates he may well be a really good turf horse down the road. He has been training through foot problems his past couple races and Desormeaux being taken off the horse is interesting. The switch to Mike Smith who along with trainer Mott rode each other into the Hall of Fame as a legendary team in New York in the early 90's is also interesting. Mike Smith rides for Bill Mott.

Game On Dude - Post 8 - Morning Line 10/1
He has two wins in five lifetime starts but has not faced the likes of the top four in this race. He is here because he won the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby in Dallas in his last and posted a bullet work at Santa Anita last Monday. The team of Baffert and his new young riding sensation have been on fire this spring which is why we are even talking about this horse today. Martin Garcia rides for Bob Baffert.

Others to Watch:
Make Music For Me - Post 4 - M/L 10/1 - 4th in the Derby with a steady Beyer climb. Joel Rosario rides for Alexis Barba.
Spangled Star - Post 2 - M/L 30/1 - 3rd in the Withers and Gomez up helps chances. Garret Gomez rides for Rick Dutrow.
Uptowncharleybrown - Post 3 - M/l 10/1 - A cut below these but new trainer is a plus. Rajiv Maragh rides for Kiaran McLaughlin.

The return of Gio Ponti and a field of eleven that includes most of the current US turf stars makes the 2010 Manhattan Handicap a great warm up for the Belmont Stakes today.

Manhattan Handicap - Grade I - Purse $400,000 - Surface: Inner Turf - Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
Gio Ponti - Post 1 - Morning Line 2/1
He ran 4th in the Dubai World Cup in his last but losing to Gloria De Campeao is no disgrace. He ran second in his first start of the year in the Tampa Bay Handicap and Second to Zenyatta in the BC Classic last fall. Assuming he comes off the trip to Dubai in good shape, he should be ready to roll here. Ramon Dominguez rides for Christophe Clement.

Take The Points - Post 5 - Morning Line 9/2
He ran 5th in the Dubai Duty Free in March and again how horses handle the travel to and from Dubai is always a question. He has very consistent 100 + Beyers and a Grade 1 win in his only race over this track. The guess is his top trainer will have him ready and since Prado climbed aboard he has been hard to beat. Edgar Prado rides for Todd Pletcher.

Just As Well - Post 9 - Morning Line 10/1
He ran second in the Dixie to rival Strike A Deal and hasn't won that often lately. A second in a Grade 1 in Canada last fall and a second to Gio Ponti in the Arlington Million last August are the recent highlights. Still, Desormeaux takes the mount to replace the injured Leparoux and he is a top turf rider. He has had consistent 100+ Beyers. Kent Desormeaux rides for Jonathan Sheppard.

Court Vision - Post 6 - Morning Line 4/1
He has suffered from seconditis in his last three starts and comes close a lot more often than he gets there. While others went off to Dubai he stayed racing in the US and has a second to Take The Points in the Gulfstream Turf Hcp and a near miss to General Quarters in the Churchill Turf Classic in his last. He ran 4th to super star Goldikova in the BC Mile last fall and is usually on the board in his last ten starts all of which came in Grade 1 races. Robby Albarado rides for Richard Dutrow.

Others To Watch:
Strike A Deal - Post 2 - M/l 12/1 - Consistent 100+ Beyers and a win on the lead in last. Garret Gomez rides for Alan Goldberg.
Pinckney Hill - Post 3 - M/L 8/1 - A cut below these but always close. Rajiv Maragh rides for Angel Penna.