Intro and Early Belmont Thoughts

Welcome to the new handicapping blog on

As many of you probably know, Jason Shandler is leaving Blood-Horse. Jason did a great job of fostering a place for handicapping discussion on this website, and I am looking forward to sharing insights.

I made my debut on That Handicapping Show this week with Tom LaMarra, and we kicked it off by looking ahead to next Saturday's Belmont Stakes. I was a little nervous being in front of the camera. I promise to smile more in the future! I love the challenge of handicapping races.

One thing readers of this blog will find out quickly about me is that I do my homework. I typically spend about 3-4 hours analyzing a race card, and I rely a lot on video review. I pay close attention to speed figures, running lines, and chart comments, but I find information that is so widely distributed is usually overbet (plus they often miss important things). I have a good eye for emerging talent, so maiden, allowance, and stakes races are usually where I find my edge.

In this year's Kentucky Derby, I picked Union Rags. I knew I was beaten two strides into the race due to his bad start.

I got on board the I'll Have Another Train in the Preakness, and thought he was a significant overlay at 3-1. I also really liked Zetterholm's chances to crash the tri or super. His 4th-place finish at 20-1 keyed a $424 superfecta payout for $1.

So, how are we going to make some money on this Belmont?

My early opinion is that I'll Have Another is the best candidate to win the Triple Crown I have personally seen (1990 was my first Triple Crown). I'll Have Another is the fastest member of this crop at a classic distance AND he has a great mind, which will help him handle the stretch to 1 1/2 miles. But he's probably going to be even money.

I think Union Rags is a great horse, but I don't like his pedigree going an inch farther than 1 1/4 miles.

Dullahan should be sitting on a nice run, but he got a perfect pace setup in the Derby and only finished third. I will use him underneath in the Belmont for sure and perhaps as a 'B' selection in multi-race wagers. I like the jock change to Javier Castellano.

Paynter is the best of the new shooters. He ran very fast winning a non-winners-of-one allowance on the Preakness undercard, when he got a perfect trip against lesser.

My video review turned up two interesting but flawed long-priced horses. Both of them will need to improve bigtime to get a piece, a less-than-ideal scenario. Street Life showed a ton of potential in his first two career wins, winning from improbable positions. I cooled on him a little off of his efforts in the Wood and the Peter Pan.

Unstoppable U is making a huge class rise, he has not run a particularly fast race yet, and the Belmont will be his first two-turn race. Sounds great huh?  Those are very significant obstacles, but I like his first two career runs. This probably isn't the right spot to make money on this horse, but I can at least tell you he is better than his PPs look. He has a nice pedigree and a long, rhythmic stride that will serve him well at longer distances.

One thing to keep in mind about this race is that there is a BIG difference between the Derby/Preakness distance and the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. I am planning to go over the pedigrees with a fine-tooth comb to try to find a horse with real stamina blood.

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