Haskin's Belmont Report: Belmont Brain Teaser

Let’s try and get through this with as little pain as possible. If you think you can nail this year’s Belmont Stakes winner through conventional handicapping methods you’re most likely in for a rude awakening. But in our case the alternative is a blank space where the Friday column should be.

You can decipher all this in whatever manner you choose, but the bottom line is, we’re dealing with a full field of 14 horses – some fresh and others not so fresh – going a mile and a half for the first time over what likely will be a sloppy or muddy track, or a tricky drying out track at best.

Despite the gorgeous weather all week, it’s been a rather slow week on the backstretch, with very little media at hand. The feeling here is that a great marketing opportunity was missed by not salvaging what is left of this year’s Triple Crown with a heavy “Come see the Filly on the Filly” (or something to that effect) promotion. With the Kentucky Derby and Preakness both having tremendous historical significance this year, we do have the possibility of further history being made with Rosie Napravnik riding the filly Unlimited Budget.

Auto racing has made a national celebrity of Danica Patrick, who has not been nearly as successful in her sport as Napravnik has been. What better opportunity to reach mainstream America than by having TV commercials, full-page newspaper ads, and an appearance on one of the late night talk shows promoting Napravnik’s attempt to become the first female rider to win a classic aboard a filly. And on the 20th anniversary of Julie Krone’s victory in the Belmont Stakes on Colonial Affair, in which she became the first and only female rider to win a classic. In addition, Napravnik is riding Unlimited Budget for trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled Rags to Riches to win the 2007 Belmont Stakes, becoming the first filly to win the Test of the Champion since 1905.

A full-fledged marketing campaign could have added great interest to the race and brought it to the attention of TV stations and newspapers around the country. It was at least worth a try and might have created a diversion from all the negative publicity the sport has received the past few years.

But what’s done is done, and we have delayed the inevitable long enough. It’s time to try to analyze this year’s Belmont Stakes.

Most people feel as if Orb’s “A” game will win this race, and he has shown no signs to dissuade anyone from thinking that way. He looks good, he’s worked well, and he has been galloping strongly every morning. He has the pedigree to get the distance and he’s already shown an affinity for a sloppy track. So, we’ll establish the fact that Orb is the horse to beat.

But we’re not here to latch onto favorites. We’re looking for value, and there is always value in the Belmont Stakes, because you can never really be sure what’s going to happen and who is going to handle the mile and a half and these big sweeping turns. There is a reason why we’ve had horses win at odds of 24-1, 13-1, 11-1, 38-1, 36-1, and 70-1 since 2002.

We’ll state right off the bat that no horse has been training better than Freedom Child, whose gallops have been machine-like. The runaway Peter Pan Stakes winner has done nothing wrong in the morning, galloping strongly and doing it in a professional manner. It would be an understatement to say he loves the slop following his 13 1/4-length romp in the Peter Pan, and there is a good chance he will get another “off” track. But even if he doesn’t, he has also proven his ability on a fast track. Like Orb, he is a son of Malibu Moon. So, you can do whatever you wish with him. The feeling here is that he will wind up going off as the second choice, because of all the buzz that surrounded him.

Revolutionary could go off as the third choice, with Golden Soul also taking action, based on their performances in the Kentucky Derby and being freshened since that race. We're tempted to go with Revolutionary as the top choice, considering he was our No. 1 ranked horse on Derby Dozen and had to hesitate several times stuck behond Golden Soul before finally making a big run, but we're simply looking for a bigger price.

Oxbow, of course, will be bet off his Preakness victory, but he was 15-1 in that race, and some will feel he will not have the luxury of a soft pace, as he did when he stole the Preakness right from under the noses of the other riders. But he has proven he can handle any kind of pace, and you can never count this tenacious, hard-knocking colt out of any race. He’s had a tough 3-year-old campaign, having already run in six graded stakes, all around two turns, and he hasn’t had more than five weeks off between races since October.

So, that brings us to the price horses who look to have a legitimate shot to upset this field. And there are plenty of them. Overanalyze, who we picked, especially as our longshot special, in the Derby, is back on his win cycle and could be tough if he can handle the 1 1/2 miles. He’s been working OK; nothing flashy, just good solid works. He’s won his only start at Belmont, taking the Futurity Stakes with a powerful stretch run and gets John Velazquez, who was aboard in that Futurity win. Throw the Kentucky Derby out. He ran a bizarre race, falling back to last and then coming on again to beat about half the field, despite having to alter course sharply in the stretch while making a belated move. He did beat Oxbow handily in the Arkansas Derby, and ran a much better race than the time might indicate. We certainly can see him winning this race and would be tempted to put at least a saver on him and include him in the trifectas.

Unlimited Budget we feel is going to be bet down and may not off much value, but if the track stays sloppy or muddy, the Valid Appeal line of her female pedigree that curtails her distance prowess, will help her stretch out because of its powerful slop influence. She worked brilliantly in her final drill and looks to be coming into the race extremely sharp. The one time Napravnik rode her was the one time she was able to relax and take back well off the pace en route to an impressive score in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds. They obviously make a great team, and we’re looking for a big effort from the daughter of Street Sense.

We began liking Incognito watching his maiden victory and then fell in love with him witnessing that remarkable performance against older horses that has to be seen to be really appreciated. Let’s just say it even surpassed Revolutionary’s Withers score as the most amazing victory we’ve seen all year. His Peter Pan was a total toss, and he actually ran a much better race than it looks on paper (see our column earlier in the week). He has the pedigree for sure, being by A.P. Indy, out of Octave, and has a big shot to at least get in the exotics. It takes him a while to get fully cranked, so don’t get discouraged if you see him being asked and not responding. Once he does he will keep coming and get stronger the farther he goes.

Now we come to our two key horses, Will Take Charge and Palace Malice. Talk about throw-outs, Will Take Charge's Kentucky Derby should be ignored other than to watch him moving stride for stride with Orb around the far turn and into the stretch. While Orb got a clear run on the outside, he ran right smack into a tiring Verrazano and got stopped cold and had to be taken up. You can’t stop a 17-hands horse like that and expect to get him going again. Also, he was coming into the Derby off an eight-week layoff, so he had that against him. Remember, he did beat Oxbow in the Rebel Stakes. We’re also throwing the Preakness out, because it is his size and huge stride that worked against him over that deep tiring track at Pimlico. Now, he gets the perfect racetrack for him that is conducive to a big long-striding horse. We love the way he’s been galloping every morning and has really been down into the bit and razor-sharp. His energy level is high and he made a spectacular appearance grazing on Wednesday. He’s carrying his flesh beautifully and his coat is radiant. He also gets reunited with Jon Court, who has been on him for all three of his career victories. Whether he’s good enough to win, who knows? But he is showing all the signs of a horse ready to run a big race.

Finally, we come to my old favorite, Palace Malice, who we still haven’t given up on. He’s had a strange 3-year-old campaign, filled with misadventure, altered schedules, and failed experiments. Last summer, he was regarded as perhaps Todd Pletcher’s most promising 2-year-old; at least one of them. When he ran in the Risen Star, he was the only horse in the 12-horse field who had never been two turns and was coming into the race off only one seven-furlong race in 6 1/2 months. He still turned in a big performance to finish third, beaten a half-length, while finishing ahead of Oxbow. In the Louisiana Derby, he looked like a potential winner when he ran into a traffic jam and had nowhere to go the entire length of the stretch. Chalk that down as a wasted race. In order to try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, he came back only two weeks later in the Blue Grass Stakes, his first try over Polytrack. In the 14-horse field, he did all the dirty work, going after a loose-on-the-lead Rydilluc, putting him away and taking over the lead in the stretch. But he raced greenly over the strange surface, losing focus and switching back to his left lead, and was nipped right on the wire by a fast-closing Java’s War.

Coming back in three weeks, he wore blinkers for the first time in the Derby, and that proved to be a disaster. Ridden by Mike Smith for the first time, he became speed crazy in that 19-horse cavalry charge and proceeded to set suicidal fractions of :45 1/5 and 1:09 4/5. He was still right there turning for home, but he was cooked – roasted, fried, and stewed. All he managed to do was set it up for all the deep closers to finish one, two, three.

Since that debacle, he has worked brilliantly, including one sensational work. He’s bred to go the distance, he’s bred for the slop, but he did draw post 13, which we’re not thrilled about. The feeling here is that Smith should take hold of him this time and take him back, as the colt did in the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby, and them methodically work his way into contention. If he sends him at the start, even with blinkers off, he’s in danger of getting hung wide on the first turn, which normally spells disaster.

The other longshots in the field, Vyjack, Frac Daddy, and Giant Finish are no slouches either, while Midnight Taboo, despite his inexperience, has exceptional mile and a half breeding.

But when push comes to shove, we’re going to give Palace Malice another shot and hope he can overcome the outside post, and also play Will Take Charge as a saver, and probably play them with several of the others in the exotics, depending on what the track is like.

If you’re looking for non-handicapping angles, well, we’ve had Orb and Oxbow, which leaves Overanalyze to complete the “Cheery-O’s” Triple.

Or how about a trifecta box of Orb, Revolutionary, and Palace Malice, who all were broken and trained together as babies at Niall Brennan’s farm in Ocala?

And, finally, how can you not put a few bucks on Rosie and Unlimited Budget, even though it has gone virtually unnoticed outside the sport.


Leave a Comment:


This is shaping up as an intriguing race.  I agree that an opportunity has been missed to market racing through Rosie and the filly.  I hope we don’t miss an even bigger opportunity to commemorate racing’s single greatest achievement in my view – Secretariat’s Belmont.  As others have noted, it has been a shame that NBC has not focused on the anniversary in their coverage.  I attended the Belmont in 1993 (my only time) and it was truly a special day due to the on track celebration of Secretariat’s 20th anniversary.  His family was there and very gracious with his fans and the track showed video of his races between the live races leading up to the 31 length victory.  Perhaps we no longer care about history, but I believe racing would have created new fans through celebrating Big Red’s Triple Crown again.  Here’s hoping for the 50th.

07 Jun 2013 2:45 PM
Soldier Course

Laudie has said what needed to be said. Secretariat's 40th has gotten not much more than a glancing reference in the NBC prime coverage of the Derby and Preakness this year. Surely the Belmont coverage will do right by him, but I'm not holding my breath. Very disappointing all round, disgraceful.

A Rosie-filly marketing angle might have generated some interest for new fans, but I'm weary of the gender angle. Tom Durkin's great howl, "filly in the Belmont", in 2007 was stirring, but it's time to take it in stride.

07 Jun 2013 3:17 PM

All my eggs in one basket Revolutionary.Oxbow and Repole horses have no chance whatsoever.

07 Jun 2013 4:35 PM

The bigwigs at the tracks just don't seem capable of promoting themselves anymore.  It seems they are more likely to lay out $$ on slot machines rather than invest it in the beautiful athletes who have made the reputations of those same tracks.  I agree with you Steve about Rosie, and also Laudie who decries the lack of remembrance for Secretariat and his impressive feat.  And I keep asking why, with Belmont as his home track, there has never been a Seattle Slew Stakes race there?

While I am at it, with a possible Triple Crown on the line last year, why was Belmont Park so hostile to Doug O'Neill?

It seems the track officers are working overtime to bury their own sport....and thereby shafting the sports' fans.

For the Belmont, lots of talent, some well-rested, but my exacta remains Orb and Revolutionary.  All of the competition is worthy, with no duds.  It should be one heck of a race!  Best of luck to everyone and their champion.

07 Jun 2013 5:20 PM
Golden Gate

It is nice getting to speak with people who are not active in the sport of racing concerning their opinions. Five people mentioned to me how much they liked Rosie Napravnik's interview and how they really hoped she would win. They were impressed with how "real" she was and handled her interview.

Palace Malice got some fans by people reading your column on him especially here in Oklahoma where we have had horrible tornadoes.

My picks are Palace Malice, Take Charge Indy and Freedoms Child

07 Jun 2013 6:37 PM

It's not called "Looking for Value" or a "Horse at a good price" but "Picking the winner" no matter what it pays.

07 Jun 2013 8:44 PM
Mister Frisky

Orb and Oxbow over WTC,Rev,Incognito.

07 Jun 2013 9:02 PM

Another eagerly awaited piece from the Master!What a pleasure we have in Mr Haskin.

Here is a bit of of Information that I am sure he will love.

   Tom Durkin, the track announcer, conceived the concept back in 2004 when Smarty Jones entered the Belmont with a Triple Crown sweep on the line.

"When Smarty Jones was running in the Belmont Stakes I thought he might possibly win by as much as Secretariat," Durkin said.

"So the night before I measured out the exact distance that Secretariat had won by and marked it with red tape on the rail.

Alas it was not to be."

     I don't know if he has done it since ------(I suspect not!)

He can take a break this year as " In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Secretariat's sweep of the Triple Crown, the New York Racing Association has placed a blue-and-white striped pole inside the main track. It is located 31 lengths from the finish line, the margin of his record-shattering win in the Belmont. The actual distance is 253 feet, 2 inches."

I liked Tom's idea better but at least we have something to think about!

          Personally I would have put a photo of Secretariat about 125 feet in FRONT of the winning post to show him waiting on them.Patrick.

07 Jun 2013 9:36 PM

Let's just get to the very beginning of the article... Orb WILL win; all these others should be put underneath

07 Jun 2013 9:46 PM

Orb for redemption, Will Take Charge for looking the most like Secretariat and Incognito for being the unknown dark horse and Freedom's Child for having that look that I am the winner.

One of these 4, how's that for deciding who will win.  LOL!

07 Jun 2013 10:03 PM
Fran Loszynski

Glad you feel that way about FreedomI Child. I see him pulling a Birdstone over Smarty Jones with Orb or Oxbow. His gallop is great.

07 Jun 2013 10:30 PM
Pedigree Ann

Palace Malice's damside is very turfy - his dam won only on turf, his damsire won only on turf, the second dam won only on turf, the second dam's sire is known overwhelmingly for his turf horses, the 3rd dam won on dirt and turf but her only stakes win was on turf. The race that got PM into the Derby was on Keeneland's Polytrack, which many turf horses seem to find congenial. Makes me wonder on which surface this horses actually belongs.

07 Jun 2013 10:42 PM
Paula Higgins

Orb and if not I hope Rosie takes it with Unlimited Budget. The big issue is the track. I hate a wet track because a good horse can end up out of it if he doesn't like it. I also think they are riskier for horse and rider.

07 Jun 2013 11:20 PM
Love 'em all

It's nice to think the "Os" (cheeri-O-O-Os) will take it again.  However, with all the rain and sloppy track conditions, I'm thinking FROG (ribbit, ribbit, ribbit) ...

Freedom Child, Revolutionary, Orb/Oxbow/Overanalyze, Golden Soul .... to show up today.  

But, then it could be GOOP .... Golden Soul, Orb, Oxbow, Palace Malice.  

Regardless, it should be a fun day ... and we have just a few more hours to go!  

Would like to add a big congratulations to Calidoscopio's win in yesterday's Brooklyn!  That rascal pulled a Silky Sullivan on us!  Love that old fella and was rooting for him!  Cheers to Calidoscopio! He's ten years old!!

08 Jun 2013 8:58 AM
Old Timer

Steve, the NYRA should hire you to help with their marketing! I would love to see Rosie and the filly win. However, due to the gender factor, the horse will be an underlay in the odds department.

Based on the Brooklyn double payouts, Orb may go off at less than 2-1, which is also pretty low value.

Overanalyze with Johnny V. may be the best value at 11 or 12 to 1; with a saver on Will Take Charge. That would be just like Wayne Lukas to take two legs with 2 different horses.

Good luck to all and hoping for a safe trip for all participants.

08 Jun 2013 9:24 AM

Steve off topic i know but i saw the replay of the Brooklyn on yahoo news this morning,there is a frame at the end of the race of Pletcher's face that needs to be framed,the four wheels of my office chair went skyward and i landed flat on my back i was laughing so hard.

08 Jun 2013 9:26 AM

For once I think the racing industy did something right by not trying to hype the "Filly on a filly" angle that Steve referred to. Everyone knows that NASCARs hype of Patrick is all fluff and no substance and the thoroughbred industry doesn't need to follow that example. The best marketing strategy is to simply gather the best 3 year old's each year and let them race. If that doesn't attract fans then no amount of hocus pocus is going to fool people into believing you have a good product.

08 Jun 2013 11:07 AM


Thanks for all your hard work, pics and information along this Triple Crown Trail.  Good Luck with your picks.  If thoroughbred racing and NBC are on the same page to promote this sport they must first and foremost be about the horse.  Show us the horses, talk about the horses while showing us the horses , show us the horses while doing the human interest stories.  There are far too many talking heads, slow pan shots of the crowd, trainer interviews when the horses are in the paddock or on the track.  The horses can be shown and talked about at the same time.  To engage the casual fan to make their own pick, "who do you like"?, the horses have to be shown.  But it seems that NBC is promoting an event, a happening and not giving the casual fan an opportunity to see the warriors and make a selection as they prepare for battle.  That's my rant for the day.

Orb's two moves in the Preakness, first after running himself up to the leaders, then being pulled up by Joel, and second after dropping back from that pull-up and coming on again for 4th, give me the confidence that he will handle this field.  If not, this is a wide open race where anything can happen.

Will bet Orb to win and have Orb, Freedom Child, Oxbow, Revolutionary and Golden Soul in my tri box.

Will also do a long-shot ex box with Overanalyze, Will Take Charge, Vyjack and Palace Malice.  

Having said all this, with a drying out track= Big Balloons.

Good Luck to everyone!

08 Jun 2013 11:28 AM
Linda in Texas

Slew never has it wrong. Never. Not on thoughts of why no highlighting Rosie/Unlimited Budget and especially Seattle Slew with no named race, RIP Honorable Brave Warrior. Doug and Dennis O'Neill right on Slew, and not to mention lots of other things also. I call it arrogance. We common folk aficionados are just supposed to  accept and eat what is on their menu. I Love New York sometimes and some places. Not all. But don't get me wrong, i love the horses all the time anywhere and any place.

Not taking a stand today. Slop again, so excuses will prevail for the non winners, i first typed loser, but to me no horse is a loser. The winner will be the horse that has it in his or her blood to run whether it is on rocks, turf, slop, with dirt in their face, on poly tracks or in the rain.

In my book, that is what a true Thoroughbred will do. We will have a winner. Good Luck and Safe Trips to everyone in their comings and their goings.

Thanks Steve and look for ABF she will be there wearing a white brimmed chapeau with a brilliant blue Fascinator on top! Have a great time everybody.

And Good Luck To The Handicappers!!

I wonder which one Suzy will choose?

08 Jun 2013 12:27 PM

I don't do an "all in" strategy, as a general rule.  There are only eight horses I have ever put "all in" on in a stakes race(s):  Thunder Gulch, Real Quiet, Silver Charm, Charismatic, War Emblem, Rags to Riches, Animal Kingdom and I'll Have Another.  I have to believe in a horse at least 200% to risk every single cent I have with me on them.  That has happened with only two horses in my entire life:  Thunder Gulch's Kentucky Derby win (I was just a kid then) & all of I'll Have Another's races (I just loved him & believed in him that much).  

This Belmont Stakes is too wide open of a race to have an "all in" policy for me.  I'm loyal to four of Belmont entrants.  I have supported them all year & they are all a part of the group from my original 2013 Kentucky Derby picks (Revolutionary, Oxbow, Orb, Palace Malice).  Three of them I have a lot of respect for and can't imagine leaving them out of the exotics mix (Unlimited Budget, Will Take Charge, Golden Soul).  I'm singling & combining them all in exotics & hoping and praying for the best.  The other seven Belmont entrants all have something about them that negates excluding them from consideration too, although I might have to in order to stay on budget.  The possibility of a sloppy track just muddles the waters even more about this race.  Nothing is clear! - LOL.  One thing is for sure:  It's going to be an exciting race because everyone is taking a shot in a gale force wind with this race.  In 2012, going into the Belmont, my choice for winner & exotics was very, very clear - I'll Have Another, Paynter, Atigun, Dullahan and Union Rags.  In 2013, it's not nearly as easy.  No one horse this year has my total & complete loyalty like I'll Have Another did last year.  This year, five horses share that category.  My Belmont Stakes budget is higher this year than last year.  I'm not liking that! - LOL.  I'm walking into this race hopeful, but not certain.  I wish my steeds God speed, good fortune & good luck in this race.  I know we're going to see a great race,  and I pray our Warrior Queen & Warriors all come out of this race strong & healthy, able to race another day.  That is what really matters.  

Good luck to you all in today's Belmont Stakes!

08 Jun 2013 1:09 PM

Steve, loved your article, as always.  I share your pain in being just flat out uncertain about which horse is coming into this race as the most able to take down the win in the Belmont Stakes.  Good luck with your picks, Steve.

08 Jun 2013 1:12 PM

To Slew:

I loved your post and couldn't agree with you more.  BTW - You are the first I have read anywhere to bring up last year's NYRA & Belmont debacle in not rolling out the Red Carpet for I'll Have Another, who had the best, most likely chance of any horse in many years (at least since Smarty Jones) to bring home America's 12th Triple Crown victory in the 2012 Belmont Stakes.  The atrocious way Belmont Park, the NYRA & the State of New York treated I'll Have Another & Doug O'Neill will always be a black mark against all three entities FOREVER in my book.  They created a public relations nightmare for themselves with the general public - with the "average" racing fan out there, and blackened thoroughbred racing's image - the direct opposite effect all of their new rules, regulations & heavy-handed mistreatment was meant to convey to the public.  The whole debacle made them look, (to the casual observer & the average once-a-year Triple Crown racing fan) manic, aggressive, cheap, petty & totally unfair - as if they were intentionally trying to prevent a Triple Crown from being won at all that year.  To put it frankly, they shot themselves right in the foot last year.  This year, no heavy-handed mistreatment has been seen or reported, but then again there's also not a whole lot of interest in the Belmont being generated this year either. Even die-hard racing fans are not as excited as they should be about the Belmont this year.  Very few people I know are talking about this year's Belmont, and even fewer people seem to know the names of the participants in this year's race.  Last year, in the days directly leading up to the Belmont Stakes, it seemed everyone in the United States, Canada and Mexico knew at least one very famous name of a horse in the race (I'll Have Another), and many even knew at least two horses who were scheduled to be in the race.  This year, most people have no idea who is in the Belmont Stakes, no less that this is being touted as the rubber match between Orb & Oxbow.  The NYRA & Belmont Park didn't even bother to publicize (and plaster on television & the internet) the tie-in to Secretariat's breathtaking, history-making 40th Anniversary win in the Belmont Stakes (which is unforgiveable), nor publicize the tie-in of Rosie Napravnik riding Unlimited Budget in 2013's Belmont Stakes to Rags To Riches' 2007 Belmont Stakes triumph.  They just shot themselves in the foot twice!  That makes three times in two years!  I don't understand what this group of racing executives is thinking in their marketing efforts.  They're strategies are kind of perplexing.

Great post, Slew.  Good luck with your Belmont Stakes picks!

08 Jun 2013 1:52 PM

YA GOTTA BELIEVE - Love your comment!

08 Jun 2013 2:34 PM
Linda in Texas

Uh oh, track is drying out and i am getting cold feet for not calling or supporting the grey to win.

I think i will. Done.

Could not abandon him, against my grain.

Hard to stay uninvolved even 1,900 miles away.

08 Jun 2013 2:48 PM

The racing gods have been very prudent in ordaining the this years' winners of the Triple Crown races. Who could not be more happy for the connections of Palace Malice in the Belmont Stakes.

On to the Travers Stakes - Normandy Invasion, by skipping the last 2 legs of the Triple Crown, will have filled out, matured and should be one of the major dangers.

08 Jun 2013 7:19 PM

Congratulations, Steve!  You nailed it once again with your pick of Palace Malice!  Three races in a row.  I hope you coupled him in the trifecta with Oxbow & Orb.

I am doing the Happy Dance too, because I stayed loyal to my Kentucky Derby picks once again in the Belmont just like I did in the Preakness, and Palace Malice, the incredible Oxbow, and Orb came in 1-2-3.  It's good day!

I am so happy for Palace Malice!  After being compromised so badly in the Kentucky Derby with that hideous blinker experiment, the blinkers were taken off today, Lady Fortune smile on him, and Palace Malice earned his redemptive win in the Belmont Stakes.  So fabulous!  And Todd Pletcher gets out of the doghouse with all Palace Malice supporters! - LOL.  Way to go, Palace Malice!  I'm so proud of you!

And I give a Standing Ovation to Oxbow!  What a fabulous, gritty, all-heart, courageous horse!  He ran in all three Triple Crown races and ran GREAT in all three races!  This spunky horse is TOUGH!  D. Wayne Lukas & Gary Stevens have good reason to love this horse.  I'm really proud of Oxbow!  I've been supporting him all year long and right now he is the best 3 year old colt in America.  He deserves a rest right now, he's been a warrior all year long.  I think he could do great things in the upcoming Haskell or Travers Stakes & the Breeders' Cup - Marathon, Classic, Mile - sky's the limit.  If he continues to race into his 4th and 5th years - look out!  What a gift to American racing that would be!  My standing ovation to you, Oxbow.  

And finally, congratulations to Mike Smith!  Last year, he and the courageous, impressive horse, Paynter, lost a heartbreaker in the Belmont Stakes, losing by half a head to Union Rags.  Mike Smith took all kinds of rancor and heat for that loss, very unfairly I always thought.  This year, he nobly stood up in defense of Palace Malice after the blinkers experiment in the Derby, then went out and confidently rode him to victory in the third Jewel of the Triple Crown.  It's a happy day for Mike Smith & I'm happy for him - he deserves this victory.  He got back the victory he had to forfeit in last year's Belmont & he received redemption as well. At 47 years of age, the Hall of Famer joins Gary Stevens in showing the young guns how it is done in winning Triple Crown races.  Way to go, Mike Smith!  

08 Jun 2013 7:29 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

i did ask chef picawwina you did bet palace malice in the future book you do not like him any more? well my super was 5,7,12,14 with 5,7,12,14 with 5,7,12,6.9,14 and all and i told him to burn up his handicapping notes because last year the horse i did think had not the breeding to win the derby at 10 fur. won the belmont at 12 fur.different race dynamics end different result and i did say palace malice looks fresher then orb and he was and i swear i won for my who has cystic fibrosis the experts learn from the books the talented is a creator,i was trying to help our bloggers but mr picawinna was not paying attention to the real humble players like me and he got confuse about my sincere  opinion,if he is right in the travers etc i will be the first to congratulate him but never offend someone who is searching clues to make you win money,i love mr haskin because he reply to an unfair comment in a very subtle way,so i will read Chef Picawinna future comments because he is a very wise guy but when i ask him about Palace Malice now in the belmont he never unswer back.            

08 Jun 2013 7:38 PM

Congratulations, Steve, on nailing Palace Malice. I'll wager you also had the exacta and maybe the tri.  Good job and great analysis on the winner.  

08 Jun 2013 8:41 PM
Linda in Texas

Ahhh Steve, you are good luck indeed for Palace Malice. And what a nice race. No Slop, Fairly Fast Track, No Injuries, No Hits or Errors, and a Home Run for Palace Malice to give to Mr. Campbell on a Saturday in June. I love it.

Congratulations to Mr. Campbell, Palace Malice and all of his competitors and to all care givers, stall muckers, hot walkers, bucket carriers, jockeys, trainers and the owners and just plain good folk who make it all possible for us to be a part of Thoroughbred Horse Racing. How lucky we are. Thanks so much Steve for all you do to bring it to us.

08 Jun 2013 9:27 PM

So happy for Palace Malice proving we weren't crazy for thinking he had a good shot at this. This is a big boost for Curlin too... getting his first graded stake winner in his first crop and to do it with the Belmont Stakes. Lanes End and Stonestreet must be ecstatic about this :-)

08 Jun 2013 11:27 PM
Mookie's Hero

Hello Steve

Loved your article on the dam of Palace Malice and sincerely hope Mr McBride ( her trainer) made it to the winner's circle for the Belmont. Such a heartwarming story and such wonderful ending.

Mookie's Hero

09 Jun 2013 12:06 AM
kelso fan

So happy to see Palace Malice put it all together for the Belmont.  I've always liked this colt and was so pleased, Steve, that you were high on him as well.   Congratulations to all of his connections and great recognition for Aiken!   By the way, Incognito has Aiken background too!

09 Jun 2013 12:56 AM

So for two weeks or so we have listened to wise words on Belmont strategy, summed up: "Wait. When you think you've waited too long, wait some more."

Oxbow moved too soon. Revolutionary moved too soon. Orb moved too soon.

Everybody talking and nobody listening.

09 Jun 2013 4:42 AM


Those blinkers in the Derby probably won the Belmont. All the horses appeared undertrained -- six furlongs in 1:09.8, gallop out a mile in 1:36.2 would have served all of them well.

09 Jun 2013 4:52 AM

Wow, Steve, you truly are the master! I have a question for all bloggers, when was the last time that the three different winners of the triple crown races all hit the board in the Belmont?  I read Claire's article but could find only one other instance where this has happened like yesterday.  In 1975 Foolish Pleasure won the Derby, Master Derby the Preakness and Avatar the Belmont.  Both Foolish Pleasure and Master Derby hit the board when Avatar won the Belmont.

I, too, congratulate Cot Campbell and Mike Smith.

09 Jun 2013 10:42 AM

No excuses in the Belmont.  Fast track, good break for all, no one got stopped.  They went a little too fast up front, but the gutsy Oxbow was still there at the end. I've got to think the best 4 took 4 of the 5 top spots and we don't really know how good Incognito is.

The only real disappointment to me is the slow time which tells me that none of this year's colts are real standouts.

The best effort of the day was the extraordinary Point of Entry.  Not a lover of soft turf and still won impressively in a very good time for the conditions.  Very sad to hear he was injured in the running.  I'd love to see him back, but not at the risk of future injury.  Much better we see a great son of Dynaformer standing at stud next year.  He has great connections and I know they'll doe what is best for the horse.

09 Jun 2013 12:32 PM
Love 'em all

No GOOP  .... you get POOi.

Cheers and congrats to Oxbow and Orb who ran all three TC races.  Congrats to Incognito ... ran w/o Lasix and still got 4th.  Octave should be mighty proud of her son.

Just my opinion, Palace Malice ran the Belmont like he should have the Derby, which was no fault of the horse, of course.  Hope all the horses and jockeys are fine today.  

Oxbow is the real champ in my book.

09 Jun 2013 2:15 PM

Has anyone else fallen for the veteran 10 year old Calidoscopio? He runs like Silky Sullivan, could be a clone. You gotta love horses who give you a bit of a heart attack before they hit the wire. When this horse does leave the track, I hope they do right by him. I think we'll see him again at the Breeder's Cup. I hope so.

09 Jun 2013 3:32 PM
Karen in Texas

Congratulations to Palace Malice and Dogwood! As someone said above, Lane's End and Stonestreet must be sharing the happiness! Ironic that this colt prevailed in one of the only major races his sire could not capture; and that Todd Pletcher trained the winner of that 2007 Belmont. Curlin now has a classic winner his first crop; may Palace Malice go forward successfully from here.

I thought other weekend highlight performances came from Calidoscopio and Point of Entry. Like robinm, above, I want to see a healthy son of Dynaformer standing at stud.

09 Jun 2013 7:40 PM

One thought on the Belmont, on the wake of what happened to Point of Entry, is it was great to see a horse,Incognito, that the owner refuses to use Lasix on run fourth. Everyone should know by now that the use of this drug causes depletion of Calcium in the bones of these race horses. As robinm said regarding Point of Entry," He has great connections and I know they'll do what is best for the horse". Really? What is best for all the horses is to not use the drugs that are being used, and then and only then might we stop seeing so many of these great athletes with bone injuries.

09 Jun 2013 8:26 PM

robin, you are right, no standouts, which will make this summer and fall fun to watch where they all go next.  Incognito, the only horse in the Belmont to run drug free, is very special to me.  His pedigree is just lovely; so I will be watching him.

09 Jun 2013 9:51 PM

By the way my favorite race this past week was not the Belmont; it was Margano's race at Pimlico. He is Barbaro's brother, and for the first time he ran in the slop on a dirt track and won going away.  Remember Barbaro broke down in the Preakness at Pimlico.  Margano a late bloomer is one to watch this summer and fall.  

09 Jun 2013 10:01 PM

Congrats on the pick Steve. The track was listed as "fast"....NO WAY was it fast. This don't matter because this crop of 3-year-olds are pretty "subpar". If the track really was fast, they would have gotten home in 2:29! They were all "crawling" home in the end. The last 1/4 mile must have taken 29 seconds...At least Point of Entry was badass! I hope he recovers fully....He's a good one.

09 Jun 2013 10:49 PM

T.C. fever done, Paynter back and Point of Entry not in danger, perhaps this is a good time to bring up a plea I've been sitting on.

PLEASE DO NOT, as you love them, romanticize injured horses and give cover to the horrible things that are done to them.

Horses are prey animals. When it comes to fight or flight, they choose flight. A horse's greatest horror is to be in pain, boxed in, without use of its legs.

A horse in this predicament does not fight bravely for its life. A horse does not know it is alive. (Maybe elephants and dolphins do. Not horses.) If it fights for anything, it's to escape.

A many page feature in the B-H of yore related proudly the "saving" of a hugely valuable stallion with a badly broken hock. When the horse was ready to go "tharn," collapsing into his sling with his eyes rolled back and refusing to get back on his feet, he was smacked back and forth across the head until he finally was roused to strike and was tricked back onto his feet.

Do not try to make this a wounded warrior displaying the courage that made him a great champion racehorse and sire.

The reason for the prolonged sleep deprivation was a lot of precedents where horses in slings rebroke their legs trying to get up and down. They finally decided the stallion was as good as dead if they didn't let him down, so he was allowed to sleep, after some weeks of treatment that ranks near the top on lists of torture techniques.

Another B-H feature (on how much WE LUV our horses) described a mare blind from birth who lived alone in the centre of a paddock. She had learned not to fear her groom and tolerated his approach. Otherwise she had no friend -- no human, no horse friend, no stable cat or sparrow. Usually she was pregnant.  

"Oh, we'd love to let Buttercup keep a foal . . .


. . . but we're afraid she'd step on it."

10 Jun 2013 2:30 AM
Pedigree Ann

ksweatman -

If you were here (BH blogs) last fall, you may have noticed I was touting Calidoscopio for the BC Marathon. Love those genuine dirt marathoners. We used to have them in this country, horses like Exterminator, Stymie (yes, Stymie was a great stayer), Princequillo, Promised Land, etc. But we've taken away or degraded all their races - Saratoga Cup (14f), Pimlico Cup (20f), Gallant Fox H (13f), Jockey Club Gold Cup (16f), Manhattan H (12f dirt), New York H (18f dirt), Lawarence Realization (14f, dirt, 3yo), etc.  So many once important races are not even 10f anymore (their loss of grade often follows shortening - get a clue, track management!)

And it is not like Calido is particularly bred for a distance of ground. His sire Luhuk is best known for his sprinters and milers - remember Avanzado, the red rocketship who won the Ancient Title in '03? A more typical Luhuk. And his damsire Lefty, whose best moment was when he won the Bay Shore - his get were more often milers, although as a damsire some of the Prince John influence has shown up.

But Calido was trained differently, learned to switch off big time, so that after cantering behind the field for however long is needed, he can unleash that Luhuk rocketship sprint. US trainers below a certain age never learned about this.

10 Jun 2013 10:54 AM
Pedigree Ann

I posted on June 6 at an earlier Haskin blog -

"Frac Daddy -... Toss.

Overanalyze - ... Toss.

Giant Finish - ... Toss.

Incognito - ... Toss.

Midnight Taboo - ... Toss.

Will Take Charge - ...Toss.

Vyjack - ... Toss.

Unlimited Budget -... Toss.

This make it easier to figure out the Belmont?"

I hope this helped somebody. I do actually put thought and study into this stuff. Cutting the field down to only 6 horses to consider makes life easier. I cut two more before betting my pick 4, which I lost because I singled Optimizer instead of including Point of Entry to save money (my biggest failing as a bettor) - the survivors were Orb, Oxbow, Palace Malice, and Golden Soul.

10 Jun 2013 11:38 AM
Pedigree Ann

Some of you will remember what I am paraphrasing here  -

So the Malice from the Palace held the brew that was true, unlike the Derby, where it had the pellet with the poison. But what became of the flagon with the dragon?

10 Jun 2013 11:40 AM
El Kabong

Linda in Texas,

Suzy left me hanging. I tried several times to gleam a pick but she just squinted her eyes and gave me poker face. She doesn't smoke, she doesn't drink, and now I know, she doesn't gamble. But she does love to grab a sock from my laundry basket and bury it in the garden(Her way of telling me not to leave her home alone, ever! She hates it.) Maybe next time I'll leave a sock for each horse in the gate(stuff a post position in the toe) and see if that doesn't produce a winner.

10 Jun 2013 1:53 PM
Soldier Course

Thanks, Steve, for your great series of TC articles this year. Lots of new information and interesting perspectives.

Derby was my favorite moment. Then the Rooster.

11 Jun 2013 2:03 PM


Calidoscopio!  Love that 10 year old!  I went to Breeders' Cup races last November at Santa Anita and Calidoscopio's Marathon win stayed vividly in my mind.  He won that race the EXACT SAME WAY he won Saturday's Brooklyn Stakes race.  A thing of beauty to behold.  Twenty+ lengths trailing the leader and mows them all down in the stretch to win the race.  After you pick up your mouth from the ground, all you can do is go "Wow!", applaud loudly for him and commit that kind of performance to memory forever.  Two of the greatest races I have ever seen has come from Calidoscopio!  I am a fan of his forever more! - LOL.

11 Jun 2013 11:27 PM

Love 'Em All:

I agree, Oxbow is the real champ in my book as well.  What heart!  This horse is a tough competitor - he gives his best every race.  He may not be the biggest horse in the race, but he definitely has the biggest heart and determination of any 3 year old colt this year!  His "sister in tenacity & heart" on the fillies' side this year is Beholder.

11 Jun 2013 11:30 PM

To Derbylin,

Three different horses winning Triple Crown races has happened quite a bit recently, especially since 2000.  Here's a list of some of them, horses listed in Kentucky Derby, Preakness & Belmont order in each year:  2013 (Orb, Oxbow & Palace Malice); 2011 (Animal Kingdom, Shackleford; Ruler On Ice); 2010 (Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky; Drosselmeyer); 2009 (Mine That Bird, Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird); 2007 (Street Sense, Curlin, Rags to Riches); 2006 (Barbaro, Bernadini; Jazil); 2000 (Fusaichi Pegasus, Red Bullet, Commendable).  I hope this list helps!

11 Jun 2013 11:44 PM


I can see where wearing the blinkers in the Kentucky Derby may have helped Palace Malice sharpen and focus better for the Belmont Stakes, but I mourn for what might have been for Palace Malice.  Who knows if he would have had a much different and much better outcome in the Kentucky Derby (i.e., a win in the Kentucky Derby) if he had not been hindered by the blinkers.  Going without them would have at least given Palace Malice a much better chance at being able to win the race.  With the blinkers it spelled more bad luck and underachievement for Palace Malice.  No blinkers in the Belmont = Palace Malice able to give his best performance on the track.  And, for once, Lady Luck was best friends with Palace Malice.  That always helps! - LOL

11 Jun 2013 11:50 PM

Would of been good to see the Belmont.Just no time. Though having a T.V would help too !

Have always believed from experience at Belmont that the best way to win is from the front. Has anyone an idea why ?

15 Jun 2013 1:42 PM

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