When you get right down to it, the Belmont Stakes is all about stamina; horses running a distance they likely will never run again. You can throw out speed figures and any other handicapping tool you use. They don’t apply here. At least most of the time.
That is why a favorite hasn’t won the Test of the Champion since Afleet Alex in 2005. And that is why from 2008 to 2011, the winners have gone off at odds of 38-1, 11-1, 13-1, and 24-1. And let’s not forget Birdstone at 36-1 in 2004 and Sarava at 70-1 in 2002.
The only problem is, some of those winners had mile and a half pedigrees and some didn’t, at least not on the surface.
So, as confusing as the Belmont can get, stamina still in the long run is the most valuable tool. And some horses have pedigrees so inundated with stamina you don’t need to be an expert to pick them out. When that stamina also is combined with top-class middle-distance speed, you have all the pedigree credentials necessary to win a race like the Belmont.
Although there are several horses in this year’s race who should have no problem getting the mile and a half, the one horse who actually was bred with the Belmont in mind and who has classic influences everywhere you look is Golden Soul, who used that stamina to get up for second in the Kentucky Derby.
Although he has come from far back in his last two races, don’t think this colt doesn’t have the tactical speed to lay closer in the Belmont. To start with, Golden Soul is by the top-class grass miler Perfect Soul, who won the Shadwell Turf Mile and Maker’s Mark Mile and set a course record for a mile at Keeneland of 1:33 2/5.
Perfect Soul is by Sadler’s Wells, one of the most influential sires in the history of the sport. The son of Northern Dancer was the champion sire in England and Ireland 14 times and was Great Britain’s leading sire for 11 straight years. He had the speed to win the English 2,000 Guineas as well as the 1 1/4-mile Eclipse Stakes and the stamina to run second in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the French Derby. In all, Sadler’s Wells sired 323 stakes winners and 80 group/grade I winners.
Perfect Soul’s broodmare sire is Triple Crown winner Secretariat and his maternal great-grandsire is Exclusive Native, who sired Triple Crown winner Affirmed.
Golden Soul’s female family is loaded with classic European influences, although he is a half-brother to Lexington Stakes winner Quinton’s Gold Rush. His second dam, Lady in Silver, won the French Oaks and ran second in the Arlington Million as a 3-year-old. Lady in Silver is by Silver Hawk, who was second in the Irish Derby, third in the English Derby, and the sire of 76 stakes winners and six millionaires, including English Derby winner Benny the Dip. Silver Hawk also is the great-grandsire of Belmont and Preakness winner Afleet Alex. Silver Hawk’s sire is English Derby winner Roberto, whose dam, Bramalea, won the 1 1/2-mile Coaching Club American Oaks.
Lady in Silver’s dam, Lorn Lady, is by Lorenzaccio, who upset the great Nijinsky II in the Champion Stakes. Lorenzaccio is by French 2,000 Guineas winner Klairon.
So, Golden Soul’s pedigree is inundated with class and the perfect balance of stamina and mile to middle distance speed, both in the U.S. and Europe. Credit must be given to his breeder Charles Fipke, who uses a scientific approach (being a scientist himself) in selecting his pedigrees. He does this by incorporating various pedigree and nicking methods with his own formula, and so far it has paid off, with Golden Soul and Blue Grass Stakes winner Java’s War this year alone, as well as Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Perfect Shirl, a daughter of Perfect Soul.