Hurley Belmont Blaster - Looking For An Angle

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


The first question is.are there any bona fide angles that point directly to the Belmont Stakes winner. The answer.of course not.

The second question is.are there any angles that are worth paying attention to because they have on a number of meaningful occasions pointed to live Belmont Stakes runners. The answer.absolutely. In today's BELMONT BLASTER we will take a look at two of them. (One) Running in the local Peter Pan Stakes final Belmont Stakes Prep and (Two) running in the Derby, skipping the Preakness and running back in the Belmont Stakes


If you are looking for an angle that supports going against the short price of American Pharoah you might want to consider Todd Pletcher's "other" runner MADEFROMLUCKY. I say other because it would be quite an upset in itself should MADEFROMLUCKY be sent off at a shorter price than stable mate MATERIALITY.

Back in 1979, when the current streak of Triple Crown aspirants who were swallowed by the croc that is the Belmont Stakes began, a colt by the name of Coastal impressively conquered the Peter Pan Stakes (then contested two weeks prior to the Belmont) and upset Spectacular Bid.

Over the years the Peter Pan has continued to figure not only as a key prep for the Belmont Stakes but horses exiting that race have given the hook (I'll stop after that one) to the Triple Crown aspirant as recently as last year when Tonalist denied California Chrome the laurels.

Here is how Peter Pan runners have done in recent Belmont Stakes and at what odds:

2014 (California Chrome Triple Crown Try)
Tonalist - Won Peter Pan.Won Belmont (9-1)
Commissioner - Second in Peter Pan.Second In Belmont (28-1)
Matterhorn - Fourth in Peter Pan.Eighth In Belmont (41-1)

Incognito - Fifth in Peter Pan.Fourth In Belmont (18-1)
Freedom Childs - Won Peter Pan.Thirteenth in Belmont (8-1)

Street Life - Third In Peter Pan.Fourth in Belmont (10-1)

Monzon - Sixth in Peter Pan.Ninth in Belmont (29-1)
Prime Cut - Third in Peter Pan.Eleventh in Belmont (21-1)

Drosselmeyer - Second in Peter Pan.Won Belmont (13-1)
Fly Down - Won Peter Pan.Second in Belmont (5-1)

Charitable Man - Won Peter Pan .Fourth in Belmont (5-1)
Brave Victory - Third in Peter Pan - Seventh in Belmont (27-1)

2008 (Big Brown Triple Crown Try)
Ready's Echo - Third in Peter Pan.Third in Belmont (29-1)

No Peter Pan Runners In Belmont

2006 (Race Run Three Weeks Prior To Belmont.2007-2014 Four weeks Prior To Belmont)
Sun River - Won Peter Pan.Third In Belmont (6-1)

From 2005-2000 The Peter Pan was run two weeks prior to the Belmont and the results were not as meaningful as they have been since the 2006-2014 period with more time in between races.

SUMMARY: Since 2006 there have been 14 Belmont Stakes runners who exited the Peter Pan Stakes. Those fourteen have resulted in 2 Winners, 2 seconds, 2 thirds and 3 fourths. That is 9 of the 14 in the Superfecta. Not the worst of angles, especially when constructing your exotics.


Another not so well kept secret is that in recent years, after making an all out effort (run well or not) in the Kentucky Derby, a number of heady trainers have seen the wisdom of skipping the Preakness, giving their still maturing colts a chance to regroup and running back in the Belmont Stakes 5 weeks later.

This has proven a solid maneuver. Last year, as previously shown, the top two that exited the Peter Pan ran 1-2 in the Belmont (4 week break) while third and fourth went to last out Kentucky Derby runners. Following Tonalist and Commissioner under the wire in what was a blanket finish separating 5 horses by less than two lengths were Medal Count (my choice to win it all last year) who was beaten a length for it all at 25-1 and might have won the whole thing could he have gotten out from behind horses while along the rail a little sooner and Wicked Strong, who dead-heated with California Chrome for fourth.

In 2013 Todd Pletcher gave Palace Malice the 5 weeks between his ill-advised head strong run in the Derby and got the $29.40 win in the Belmont while in 2012 it was Derby refugee Union Rags who claimed Belmont victory and in 2011 Union Rags claimed the leg three win after skipping the Preakness.

In years past, many years past horses were arguably sounder and the Belmont winners were those that competed in the Preakness and all three races. Not so any more so the 5 week break has proven a positive.

Let's take a look at those runners who competed in the Kentucky Derby, took the Baltimore Break and ran again in the Belmont Stakes.

2014 (California Chrome Triple Crown Try)
Medal Count - Eighth in Derby.Third in Belmont (25-1)
Wicked Strong - Fourth in Derby.Fourth in Belmont (5-1)
Samraat - Fifth in Derby.Sixth in Belmont (19-1
Commanding Curve - Second in Derby.Ninth in Belmont (9-1)

Palace Malice - Twelfth in Derby.Won Belmont (14-1)
Revolutionary Third in Derby - Fifth in Belmont (5-1)
Overanalyze - Eleventh in Derby.Seventh in Belmont (10-1)
Vyjack - DNF Derby.Eighth in Belmont (24-1)
Golden Soul - Second in Derby.Ninth in Belmont (12-1)
Frac Daddy - Sixteenth in Derby.Fourteenth in Belmont (30-1)

Union Rags - Seventh in Derby.Won Belmont (3-1)
Dullahan - Third in Derby.Seventh in Belmont (5-2)

Stay Thirsty - Twelfth in Derby.Second in Belmont (16-1)
Brilliant Speed - Seventh in Derby.Third in Belmont (11-1)
Nehro - Second in Derby.Fourth in Belmont (5-1)
Santiva - Sixth in Belmont.Eighth in Belmont (13-1)
Master Of Hounds - Fifth in Belmont.10th in Belmont (6-1)

Stately Victor - Eighth in Derby.Eighth in Belmont (14-1)
Ice Box - Second in Derby.Ninth in Belmont (12-1)
Make Music For Me - Fourth in Derby.10th in Belmont (12-1)

Summer Bird - Sixth in Derby.Won Belmont (12-1)
Dunkirk - Eleventh in Derby.Second in Belmont (9-2)
Mr. Hot Stuff - Fifteenth in Derby.Eight in Belmont (23-1)
Chocolate Candy - Fifth in Derby.Ninth in Belmont (10-1)

2008 (Big Brown Triple Crown Try)
Denis Of Cork - Third in Derby.Second in Belmont (7.2-1)
Anak Nakal - Seventh in Derby.Third in Belmont (34-1)
Tale Of Ekati - Fourth in Derby - Sixth in Belmont (15-1)

Tiago - Seventh in Derby.Third in Belmont (7-1)
Imawildandcrazyguy - Fourth in Derby.Sixth in Belmont (9-1)

Jazil - Fourth in Derby.Won Belmont (6-1)
Bluegrass Cat - Second in Derby.Second in Belmont (5-1)
Steppenwolfer - Third in Derby.Fourth in Belmont (5-1)
Bob And John - Seventeenth in Derby.Eighth in Belmont (5-1)
Deputy Glitters - Eighth in Derby.Eleventh in Belmont (12-1)

Andromeda's Hero - Eight in Derby.Second in Belmont (12-1)

2004 (Smarty Jones Triple Crown Try)
Birdstone - Eighth in Derby.Won Belmont (36-1)

2003 (Funny Cide Triple Crown Try)
Ten Most Wanted - Ninth in Derby.Second in Belmont (10.1)

2002 (War Emblem Triple Crown Try)
Essence Of Dubai - Ninth in Derby.Sixth in Belmont (21-1)
Perfect Drift - Third in Derby.Tenth in Belmont (6-1)

Invisible Ink - Second in Derby.Fifth in Belmont (10-1)
Thunder Blitz - Fourth in Derby.Sixth in Belmont - (13-1)
Balto Star - Fourteenth in Derby.Eighth in Belmont (12-1)
*This was a definitely outlier year when there were four horses returning from the Preakness and three from the Derby and the four Preakness runners finished 1-2-3-4 (Point Given, A P Valentine, Monarchos and Dollar Bill) after those four respectively finished 1-2-6-4 in the Preakness.

Commendable - Seventeenth in Derby.Won Belmont (19-1)
Aptitude - Second in Derby.Second in Belmont (2-1)
Wheelaway - Fifth in Derby.Fourth in Belmont (6-1)
Curule - Seventh in Derby.DNF in Belmont (8-1)

SUMMARY: Since 2000 there were a total of 46 runners who competed in the Kentucky Derby, skipped the Preakness and ran in the Belmont Stakes. In those 15 years, if the results were read as a lifetime record for one horse the resume would be (first thru fourth) 46-6-7-4-3.

But here is the really FUN FACT. Had you bet a $2 win bet on every one of those 46 horses (a total of $92) you would have collected.
Palace Malice - $29.40
Union Rags - $7.50
Summer Bird - $25.80
Jazil - $14.40
Birdstone - $74.00
Commendable - $39.60
.a TOTAL OF $190.70

Am I suggesting that you bet the FIVE-OF-THE-EIGHT (FRAMMENTO, FROSTED, KEEN ICE MATERIALITY, and MUBTAAHIJ) in this year's field that ran in the Derby and skipped the Preakness? No I'm not. But with American Pharoah likely at odds-on it is quite likely a $10 total win investment will yield better than $10 should the Derby and Preakness winner be defeated.

There is no question that AMERICAN PHAROAH is going to be odds-on. There is no question that the world will be rooting for a Triple Crown. That being said, a serious bettor has to make decisions. If he or she wants a Triple Crown more than they want to cash a bet, perhaps they should sit out the race. Or, try to find the right two-to-three horses that will at least provide a positive return on investment.

I say this because despite a list of runners at least as solid as well-regarded American Pharoah (and I say this because all the talk about him being the "best we've seen in years and years" was also chanted when it came to California Chrome and Big Brown and Smarty Jones and Real Quiet and Silver Charm and on and on) the reality is, the Belmont Stakes has been the legitimate graveyard Triple Crown aspirants and of favorites (sorry Saratoga.)

Since 1996 there have been 18 Belmont Stakes and there have been ONLY TWO FAVORED WINNERS, Afleet Alex ($4.30 in 2005) and Point Given ($4.70 in 2001.)

The average off odds in those 18 races has been 1.6-1. There have been 4 seconds, 4 thirds and a fourth with the remaining 7 finishing 6th, 8th (twice), 9th (twice), 14th and DNF.

So I leave you with this, has AMERICAN PHAROAH proven himself good enough to win the Belmont Stakes and the first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978? He absolutely has. Can you bet on him to win the race? We'll leave it at that. I'll let you know by 1:00 PM on Friday.


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