Haskin's Belmont Report: Look to the Exotics

Because of the nature of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and its unknown factors, mainly the distance, any win selection must be made pretty much on pure speculation...or guess.

Judging from what we’ve seen over the past week, there is no reason not to like Animal Kingdom. There are fewer unknowns surrounding him than any of the others, he’s already shown he can dominate this group, and he has held up remarkably well physically. In fact, he seems to have done everything perfectly, from his work over the track, his schooling session at the gate, to his physical well being. The Triple Crown apparently has not taken anything out of him.

And most important, we still don’t know how good this horse is. If there is any horse in the field who looks capable of winning the Belmont by open lengths it is Animal Kingdom.

But, we are talking about the solid favorite, so from a betting aspect, there are many ways to go.

Animal Kingdom, of course, must be included in all exotic bets. It’s just a question who to put with him.

Another horse who has done extremely well at Belmont is Nehro, whose coat looks great and he is carrying good flesh. He may be the most versatile horse in the race and can adapt to any pace. And he has the ability to put in his run from anywhere on the track and can do it early or late.

The other horse who intrigues us is Master of Hounds, who actually ran a fantastic race in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), weaving his way through traffic in his dirt debut to be beaten only 5 ½ lengths. We didn’t like the way he shipped in on Thursday, causing quite a ruckus and failing to adapt to his new surroundings. But after a spin over the track in 90-degree weather and not getting warm in the slightest, he began to settle in and was fine on Friday morning. He also had a good little quarter-mile blowout Friday and seemed to be handling the track well. He is another that will have no problem with the distance.

With a chance of thunderstorms in the New York area Friday and Saturday, we don’t know what kind of track we’ll be dealing with. Slop definitely should move Shackleford up and help him get the mile and a half. This horse is so gutsy and tenacious it’s hard to leave him out of your bets. Watch out for him to slow the pace down for the first mile and then pull the trigger on the turn to try to get separation from the pack and dare anyone to come catch him.

If there is one horse who is built and geared for Belmont it is Mucho Macho Man, with his humongous stride and ability to just keep coming at you. He also has done quite well at Belmont the past few weeks.

Two longshots who must be respected are Brilliant Speed, because of his Belmont Stakes-oriented pedigree (see Monday’s column), and Santiva, who ran a sneaky-good race in the Derby. Despite having only one mediocre performance on Polytrack in 11 weeks going into the Derby, this tenacious little colt turned back the late-closing Brilliant Speed the entire length of the stretch and kept running on well at the finish to be beaten 5 ½ lengths, while in a three-horse photo with Master of Hounds and Brilliant Speed.

Another who should relish the distance is Stay Thirsty, who has had to alter his campaign last year and this year to suit his more illustrious stablemate Uncle Mo. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him plod along late for a piece of it.
 
As you can see, this is not an easy race to pick out three or four horses. Animal Kingdom still looks the most logical winner, but as we mentioned there isn’t much value there.

The three horses who have competed in all three legs – Animal Kingdom, Shackleford, and Mucho Macho Man -- all seem to be thriving, but we’re looking for some potential overlays and big numbers in the exotics.

With that said, Animal Kingdom, Nehro, and Master of Hounds look like a solid exacta and trifecta box and all will get the distance. And we’re also going to stick Brilliant Speed and Santiva in there for a five-horse box in an attempt to hit some really big numbers. Santiva is as laid-back of a horse as you’ll find, but is a tiger on the racetrack. And we have to admit we just like this horse and have enjoyed being around him this week. Brilliant Speed will relish the distance, had a very strong gallop Friday morning, and should be closing late.

What about Shackleford and Mucho Macho Man? Yes, it’s hard to leave them out, and either or both can easily be substituted for Brilliant Speed and Santiva if you’re not inclined to throw so many longshots in there and leave out two legitimate contenders. But we’re going for the big bucks.

Our price horse win bet is Master of Hounds, because of the improvement potential coming off the Derby. How he’ll handle running in the Derby, returning to Ireland, and coming back here for the Belmont all in five weeks is anyone’s guess, but he sure looks great physically and if anyone is used to traveling it’s him. We’ll watch the odds board and see how much he gets bet.

29 Comments

Leave a Comment:

JR

Steve, I have read that Nehro doesn't like a sloppy track, should one re-think putting him in a trifecta or super?

I have really enjoyed reading your reports they are very insightful.

10 Jun 2011 2:57 PM
PomDeTerre

If the track turns up with an ounce of moisture, Stay Thirsty must also be considered.  Simply cannot overlook Storm Bird in that pedigree.  Also should help Santiva, but I see real trouble for AK if it's wet- more than Nehro.  Pray for sun!

10 Jun 2011 5:36 PM
stevve07

the one horse to win this is shackleford  his last race he almost fell still got a good spot and put them away this horse is better than you think shackleford  has not run his best race yet you going to see the real shackleford the way he train is like the old iron horse $100.00 to win on shackleford ,

10 Jun 2011 6:15 PM
5starday

STEVE AK will destroy feild and u know that and at 2-1 thats great odds on a win bet. i got 3000  ar sportsbook at 3-1 monday on him. im keying on top of RULER ON ICE and MASTER OF HOUNDS. I agree with u about him.   on the card race 10 WINDWARD ISLAND going win in style so bet the horse if u are gambling tomm.

10 Jun 2011 7:01 PM
5starday

NEHRO would love a muddy track, afleet and AP INDY in his pedigree.

10 Jun 2011 7:03 PM
nickie

Steve, the runners I am including will be Santiva,Master of Hounds and MMM...I will try and build around these 3, and although I understand track can change from day to day, it looked awfully deep[with moisture hopefully not cuppy]...I can hear the wags allready when the winners time is aroumd 2:28...good luck to all!

10 Jun 2011 8:30 PM
JamesRockford

"STEVE AK will destroy feild"

THAT is a LAUGHABLE statement. You thro all your money on AK at 2/1 and I will LAUGH at you when I walk to the window and cash my $1200 ticket on Nehro at 5/1 or my $800 ticket on Master of Hounds at 8/1 or 9/1.

10 Jun 2011 8:37 PM
deloulcrespo

Nice work Steve, I agree with you, about animal Kingdom and Nehro as the top two, especially with Nehro who got the nedeed rest out of the Preakness.

10 Jun 2011 9:01 PM
Mister Frisky

Steve absolutely right Ak and Nehro must be included in all the exotics I love BS.MOH,Santiva,or ST to upset the apple cart in the big apple.

10 Jun 2011 9:58 PM
Bigtex

ANIMAL KINGDOM will do as he always does, win or place.  I'm with you Steve, he's a win ticket.

NEHRO's Derby finish has me concerned about him, however, the pace here won't any quicker than the Derby, and he has tremendous turn of foot.

SHACKLEFORD won't hold off AK in this race.

MUCHO MACHO MAN can't run with AK when the pedal's down.

The Ex & TRI Box will come down to ANIMAL KINGDOM, MASTER OF HOUNDS, SANTIVA, AND NEHRO.  Alternate to add to the Tri Box is SHACKLEFORD.

But how about this, Derby finish for the Superfecta!

AK

NEHRO

MMM

SHACKLEFORD

10 Jun 2011 10:23 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Happy Belmont everyone!  It's almost here, not even 24 hours away now.  I like AK, Nehro, and Shack.  Maybe with combos of Brilliant Speed and Santiva.  I can't see Master of Hounds taking it all but if he does then more power to him.  Shack looks so fit in the video that it would not surprise me at all if he is better than we think and goes the whole thing once again.  I did not see any rain at all by me in NJ and the intense heat has gone.  Hopefully tomorrow will follow suit.  I noticed that 5 of the Belmont starters were actually in Steve's original TC article this January 5th, where he listed about 50 possibles for the TC route.  The 5 that made it to the Belmont are Stay Thirsty, Monzon, Santiva, Mucho Macho Man, and Shackleford!!!

That's pretty good Steve!

Good luck betting everyone, may the horses all come home safely.

10 Jun 2011 10:26 PM
7 1/2 Furlongs

Mr. Haskin -

    With rain and a wet track forecast for Belmont 143, I'm siding with Santiva.  I liked the son of Giant's Causeway back in January and see no reason to abandon ship in June.

    My notes on off-track pedigrees indicate Santiva will appreciate a wet surface as well as any of the other eleven Belmont contestants.  I think it's his turn to run a biggie.

    On a dry, fast track, Animal Kingdon and Nehro look pretty tough.  Can't say how either will perform on wet surface.  These three are my trifecta, unscrambled.

My prediction for the final time is 2:29.65.  Best of luck with your selections.

11 Jun 2011 12:18 AM
chester

Great column, a real crap shoot. I like animal kingdom but not at 2/1. I still think shackleford is the horse to beat but lot of talk about master of hounds.

11 Jun 2011 7:11 AM
chester

Good luck to everyone and especially the horses and jockeys.

11 Jun 2011 7:12 AM
tbpartner43

Can someone tell me what happened to Astrology?  I missed any announcement if there was one.  I sure expected to see him in this race.  

May this be a safe race for all.  

11 Jun 2011 7:13 AM
surendra

MMM is a good value bet @ 10 to 1.

For Trifecta I like AK - NEHRO- MMM

11 Jun 2011 7:37 AM
Pedigree Ann

tbpartner43, Astrology stretched his pedigree as far as it will go in the Preakness. He may be by A.P. Indy, but he is also a half-sibling to speed-burners Lunarpal, Lunargal, and Lunarlady. His owners got a classic placing for the stallion ads in the only classic he had a shot of hitting the board in. They know he had no shot at 12f.

11 Jun 2011 10:39 AM
Pedigree Ann

I have to say I don't get the fascination with Master of Hounds. What has he done? He's won a maiden race and run third in a subpar G1 2yo race to Casamento (10 in the 1000 Guineas and 9th in the French Derby) and Seville (who trailed home 10th in the real Derby). He was run down in the stretch by a filly at 9.5f in Dubai when he had a clear lead. O'Brien knows he isn't all that good and is hoping to get lucky. He wouldn't subject his better 3yos to this treatment, flying back and forth (with other runners with better shots in their races, by the way). And he isn't even guaranteed to stay 12f.

Sure, Kingmambo has sired stayers, but he has also sired specialist sprinters and milers. MOH's dam won races at 6f and 7f at 2, but tried in classic races at 3, she never hit the board; her best finish was a 4th in the French Guineas; rather one-paced in longer races. In her one race in the US, she trailed in 11th of 12 in Hollywood Park's American Oaks. One half-brother was a multiple G3 winning sprinter, another a low (and I mean LOW) level stayer (and both of these were by the same sire!). The genetic possibilities are all over the block for MoH and 9f horse is just as likely as 12f horse.  

11 Jun 2011 11:19 AM
20onthenose

sometimes, ya gotta take what the track gives you.  I woke up this a.m. with the full intention of betting Animal Kingdom on top, but then got a funny feeling that the Belmont will have a big surprise. So I am putting AK on the bottom of exotics and looking for that plodder who is going to surprise everyone finishing in the top 4.   Went with Kevin Plank's Monzon, gonna put my Under Armour on and hope the 40-1 shot makes the top 4. Wish me luck

11 Jun 2011 1:17 PM
Gardner

I agree with Pedigree Ann.  Do not understand the fascination with Master of Hounds and for all the same reasons.  And to add to what she said, MoH has got to be getting jet lagged so the "fresh" horse angle is highly questionable.  

11 Jun 2011 1:46 PM
APBarZentariat

I'm with Pedigree Ann & Gardner.  I personally think the only reason O'Brien is sending MOH over here is to dodge Frankel.

11 Jun 2011 4:00 PM
Paula Higgins

Congratulations to Ruler On Ice and his connections and to Mike Repole's horse Stay Thirsty. Great race by both of them. I think Animal Kingdom's early difficulties took him out of the race early on. But truthfully, I don't see him getting it even without clipping heels early on and the mud. Shackleford ran well but he wasn't going to get it either. He didn't seem to mind the mud.

11 Jun 2011 7:04 PM
iceknight

Thanks to all the super confident bettors betting on AK and Nehro. Of course I lost some money on AK, Nehro, More money on MuchoMacho & Monzon - but I made back some in 2-3 exotic spread. My big wins came in accurately identifying Mission Approved as a top contender in one of the earlier stakes. Race replays+time are crucial for a serious bettor. Anyways, I noticed that close to $9 million was on the exotics for Belmont and close to $7.9 million on the WPS pool. WOW! I am staggered. (started wagering this preakness- go astrology! All 8 starts  in the money!)

12 Jun 2011 12:42 AM
Slew

Here we are, a day late and a dollar short.  Wouldn't you just know...poor AK...can he have had a worse trip?  And the 2nd stringer who no one discussed before the Belmont...or even after..Stay Thirsty certainly had the class to go 12f, and I'm really proud of him.  I think he's going to impact Saratoga with flair this summer, and I can't wait.  I mean...didn't Bernardini savage the top summer races?  Sonny boy may do the same.  Ruler On Ice????  24-1????  On any given Saturday, you just never know what's really going to happen no matter how prepared you think you might be.  (Does this mean the Cowboys may finally go to the play-offs?  Too much to hope for!)

12 Jun 2011 10:32 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Time for the new Derby Dozen and our first Triple Crown winner in  a zillion years in 2012 !!!! Look for Hard Spun's. Did you see Artest, 6-10-11 3rd BP? Looking forward to the current 3yo's proving their talent the rest of this year and the "mediocre group" label being debunked again as it often is, and continuing the great ride with Haskin for the rest of this year, and for next year's Triple Crown win. Woohoo, a Triple Crown in 2012 !!!(I think it's too early to jinx it, but I may not mention it again until it's done). Whoever is going for it, PLEASE reject an interview from Bob Costas.

12 Jun 2011 11:55 AM
Rachel NH

What's with the voice over of the race? Doesn't even mention AK going to his knees, etc?

12 Jun 2011 2:05 PM
Pedigree Ann

It was the same all day, as it usually is at Belmont when it is wet; you have to be on or within a length or two of the lead to have any chance of winning. The results of yesterday's dirt races tell you nothing about the quality of the winners, only their running style.

12 Jun 2011 2:33 PM
Rachel O

Well, Steve, a great article but you didn't mention Ruler On Ice at all as a possibility. He's quite a character, and as energetic today as he was yesterday. Did he ever wear his garlands in the winner's circle or did he say "nuts!" to that? We didn't see the outcome on TV because of the zillions of commercials. I have a feeling we'll see a lot of him later on this year.

I can't help but remember Afleet Alex's triumph in the Preakness in spite of being knocked so hard and stumbling almost to his knees. Jeremy Rose had to hang on for dear life. I don't know why Johnny Velasquez "knew" AK had lost after he'd clipped heels.

Then there's Zenyatta's Breeder's Cup performance last year. She reacted to the dirt in the face just the way Animal Kingdom did in the Preakness, and made up as much or more ground than he did, losing by inches.

I don't understand why AK ended up so far back in the Belmont, unless he was just tired.

I had a hunch that a longshot would win. Interesting that all the horses than ran in all three races ended up behind the ones winning the money. Either they just don't make 'em like they used to or they are not training and racing sufficiently. Unless something changes I don't think we'll ever see another TC winner.

12 Jun 2011 3:22 PM
Karen in Texas

Slew---Yes, Animal Kingdom had a most unfortunate trip and Stay Thirsty certainly validated his entry with a surprisingly good showing. Ruler On Ice? No, you never know what's going to happen...so it's entirely possible the Cowboys may make it to/through the play-offs, if the Mavs could do what they did last night!

Rachel O.---While it is a miracle that Afleet Alex stayed on his feet in the 2005 Preakness and won, that was toward the end of a mile and 3/16 race on a dry track. If I remember correctly, Jeremy Rose did not lose either iron. Animal Kingdom clipped/stumbled at the beginning of a mile and 1/2 race in the slop, and Velazquez lost an iron and could not "ride" without it until it was regained into or past the first turn. AK still managed to make a decent run, but there was too much to do. Have you read Barry Irwin's remarks on Brisnet? I'm sincerely hoping AK came out of the race all right and with no latent injuries. I believe Saturday was his first time not to be in the money, or actually not to be first or second in a race.

13 Jun 2011 5:01 PM

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