Easy to Look Past Exaggerator in Belmont Despite Record

Easy to Look Past Exaggerator in Belmont Despite Record

Category : News - Thu 09/06/2016 - 00:49 EDT

With a field of 13 set for the 148th running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes Saturday June 11 at Belmont Park, a quick glance at the past performances reveals exactly what has already been said about this year's group of three year-old colts: they aren't very fast.

Even Exaggerator (9/5) hasn’t been particularly impressive from a Beyer Speed perspective despite winning the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, running second in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and winning the Grade 1 Preakness in his last three starts. In those races, the Keith Desormeaux trainee recorded Beyers of 103, 101 and 101. While each race looked visually impressive with Exaggerator making a strong closing move, the star colt was aided by ideal pace scenarios. In the two winning performances, Exaggerator was able to sit well behind blistering early fractions while racing over sloppy tracks – both clear advantages for a proven mudder with a powerful late rally. While clearly the most accomplished horse, Exaggerator is far from a slam dunk given the mile and one half Belmont has drawn little in the way of early pace.

Stradivari holds tactical advantage 

Stradivari (5/1) is just one of three colts in the Belmont to earn a Beyer over 100. The Todd Pletcher trainee has the advantage of running on his home track in the Belmont and has trained forwardly (including a beautiful five furlong move May 13 in 59.03) following his troubled fourth-place effort in the Preakness. The lightly-raced son of Medaglia d’Oro has a significant tactical advantage in the Belmont, which should give regular pilot John Velazquez an easy tracking trip from post 5 behind the logical pacesetter Gettysburg (30/1). 

Clement runner capable of upset 

Despite having a career-best Beyer of 94, which is notably only a few notches below the top contenders, Governor Malibu (12/1) is an intriguing longshot for trainer Christophe Clement. In seven career starts, the improving colt has never finished off the board and finished a fast closing second last out in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes over the same surface. 

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