Mike Repole of Repole Stables at Belmont Park yesterday. Repole Stables will send Overanalyze, Midnight Taboo and Unlimited Budget into the Belmont Stakes.
Photographer: J. Shaw
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Elmont, NY - The third leg of the Triple Crown is here and it has brought with it an interesting mix of three year olds contending in the Belmont challenge.
Heavy rains and flooding on Long Island yesterday had some very hopeful trainers and owners that the precipitation would continue into today. West Point Thoroughbred owners of Freedom Child were hopeful after their horse took to a sloppy Belmont track on May 11, winning by 13-1/4 lengths. Orb, Golden Soul and Revolutionary enjoyed Churchill's sloppy track on Derby day, but the game has changed overnight as the sun is now out and temperatures should be in the 70's come post-time.
Orb is still listed as the morning line favorite. Trainer Shug McGaughey is looking forward to this race and hopefully Orb will run like he did in the Kentucky Derby. Trainer McGaughey claimed, "I thought there wasn't going to be any pace in the race, and there was a thought, 'Are we were too far back?' but when Orb was asked to go I knew we were gong to have something to say about it. To see that horse run the way he did was an absolute thrill for me."
The Preakness was a problem. Orb did not take to the track and had a disappointing fourth place finish. The traffic problems that plagued Orb from the inside post will hopefully not happen today as he will break from post 5. Jockey Joel Rosario has taken some heat from fans claiming the loss was jockey error, but as an owner from Dogwood Stables explained to me yesterday, "There is a lot going on in the field and the jockey must make split second decisions. To get caught up in traffic is difficult especially when you are being challenged." "Rosario's ride in the Preakness was legitimate." Racing fans will just have to wait another year for a Triple Crown hopeful. Orb has trained well this week and Trainer McGaughey is pleased with his workouts.
The perspective of Orb and Oxbow facing off is going to be one of the most captivating aspects of the race. The favorites don't typically do well in this race. As of late the ones that have won this race have entered with extremely modest credentials and have had fluke wins such as Ruler On Ice (2011), D'Tara (2008) and Jazil (2006). The horse must be bred to conquer the distance of this massive oval track which can be tricky and those contendars are Orb, Oxbow and Golden Soul.
Oxbow breezed six furlongs earlier this week before shipping to Belmont by van. Lukas says, "Both Oxbow and Will Take Charge have been doing well and they will gallop out once they arrive at Belmont. All the major works have been completed before arriving in New York."
Palace Malice ran like crazy in the Kentucky Derby. He clocked some of the fastest speed fractions before hitting the 1/2 mile. I spoke with Palace Malice syndicate owner Charlie Pigg yesterday and he seems confident that his horse will maintain his composure with Mike Smith on board today. Charlie said, " The Louisiana Derby didn't go well as he was boxed in and the ride in the Derby was suicidal. It's difficult for a jockey to ease up on the horse when he's getting away like that." Charlie believes that Trainer Todd Pletcher will give jockey Mike Smith very little instruction before race time. The pace of the race with this horse will be an important factor today.
Golden Soul will be breaking from the far outside post and is a long shot no more after the second place Derby finish. Trainer Dallas Stewart almost didn't get into the Derby lineup as the colt had very few points. Stewart was very cool and quiet about his colt once entered. The theory of those that ran well in the Derby don't fare very well in this race. Golden Soul is coming in today with a layoff between races and you can't discredit his late run in the Derby. If he hits the pace coming off the turn he will hit the board today.
What began as a rainy, muddy surface, and start to the weekend at Belmont yesterday has now faded and has been replaced by dry cool temperatures. In this race anything can happen and you can't blame people for looking at long shots no matter how disappointing the horse may look on paper. Incognito will be my long shot since the 1-1/2 mile race is now going to happen on a fast track, and if this horse finds his footing he should be contending with the pace of Orb, Golden Soul and Oxbow.
Live coverage begins at 5pm (ET) and post-time is at 6:40pm. Good luck race fans.
Copyright AP Modified, Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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