Get your gamble on: A look at the contenders for Saturday's Belmont Stakes and the undercard
Saturday marks an unusual running of the Belmont Stakes. Usually the final leg of the Triple Crown and run at a mile and a half, this year it will be the first of the Crown Jewels and will be run at a mile and an eighth.
While that should have resulted in a stellar field, this group is pretty lackluster, with the exception of morning-line favorite Tiz The Law, who was impressive with two big wins in Florida.
The question will be if a horse wins all three races, will it be considered a true Triple Crown? Most pundits say no. Most pundits are wrong. (Yes, asterisk guy, that means you).
If a horse can win all three of those races spread out over five months with races in between, it will have accomplished a feat arguably more difficult than the standard Triple Crown. Of the horses in the field, only Tiz The Law looks even remotely capable of that, although many have room for significant improvement.
My premium plays on the card will be available at pregame.com, but here is a look at some potential wagers:
The second race on the card is the Grade I Woody Stephens, which is a race we hammered last year with 18-1 shot Hog Creek Hustle. There is a horse that fits the exact same profile; turning back in distance after chasing some solid Triple Crown hopefuls at Oaklawn. He is the only true closer in a race filled with front-running burners, and the price will be right. No. 5 Shoplifted will be our play in this one. He is 8-1 morning line but it is only a five-horse field so he will likely be bet down.
In Race 4, the Pennine Ridge, I like the No. 1 horse Decorated Invader, but he will be a short price.
In Race 6, the Wonder Again, I will play the No. 1 Speaktomeofsummer, an 8-1 shot.
In Race 8, the Grade I Acorn, the No. 2 Lucrezia is the play at 9-2.
In Race 9, Stubbins is the key horse at 3-1.
THE BIG RACE
It will be hard to get around No. 8 Tiz the Law. He is four for five lifetime, with his only loss coming by less than a length at Churchill Downs. He is the only horse in the field with a 100 Beyer for his win in the Holy Bull, and he dominated the Florida Derby.
But if you want to take a stand against him, he hasn't raced since March, his Beyers other than the Holy Bull are not that impressive, and the horses he beat there don't appear to be much. That said, he should be very tough here. The horses that could improve enough to get him include No.1 Tap It To Win, who has been much better as a 3 year old than as a juvenile; Sole Volante (2), Max Player (3), Modernist (4) and Dr. Post (9). The intriguing horse, however, is No. 5 Farmington Road. He has been stuck in outside posts at Oaklawn and Fair Grounds, which is darn near impossible to overcome, and still ran credible races. His last race he raced wide against an inside, speed favoring track in a race won by Nadal, who would be favored here if he had not retired. He is probably more likely to run second or third, but an exacta or trifecta with him in it could be very profitable, even with the Tiz the Law on top. He is 15-1 morning line and will be every bit that price. He will have to close, but the race should set up for him, he has a recency edge and has faced top runners.
Tap it To Win could be real trouble if he makes the early lead. He has a wire-to-wire recent win over the surface, which is a big advantage. The others are all horses that could hit the board and should be used in exactas and trifectas.
So good luck with Saturday's races, and keep your asterisks to yourself.