2013 Belmont Stakes- Handicapping the Longshots
The post time for this Grade I stakes race is set for 3 p.m. (ET) and it will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
This final and most grueling leg of the Triple Crown racing season for three-year old thoroughbreds is usually the hardest to handicap given its 1 ½ mile length; making it a perfect opportunity to cash-in on a longshot to steal the show with a win. The following is a look at my top three horses that fit the bill.
Currently listed at +1800 on BetOnline’s early list of betting odds, Code West makes his first Triple Crown appearance of the season after failing to qualify for the Kentucky Derby and sitting out the Preakness Stakes. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, what caught my eye the most about this colt was his past experience running in major stakes races as a three-year old.
Code West first burst onto the Triple Crown Trail with a second-place finish to Ive Struck a Nerve in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course in late February. This was a key prep race for the $1 million Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 30, but a poor sixth-place showing took him out of the running for Kentucky Derby last month. Since then he finished second an allowance race at Churchill Downs on Derby Day and won an allowance race on the Pimlico race card before the running of the Preakness Stakes.
If you are looking for a solid Belmont contender with even stiffer odds, then my pick would be Midnight Taboo at +3000. This colt has only raced two times as a three-year old and this will be his first major stakes race. What makes him so attractive as a hefty longshot is the fact that he has been trained by one of the best in Todd Pletcher to specifically run this race at this track.
In early April, Midnight Taboo broke his maiden with a victory Aqueduct and followed that up with a second-place finish in an allowance race at Belmont on May 8. He is a true longshot to win in a very talented field, but he can handle the extra distance of this race and is not carrying any of the wear and tear from running in the first two Triple Crown races.
My final longshot free pick to pull-off a stunning upset at Belmont is Giant Finish at +3000. This three-year old colt is trained by Tony Dutrow and punched his ticket into the Kentucky Derby with an impressive third-place finish in the Grade III Spiral Stakes at Turfway on March 23. While he opened at 50/1 on the morning line for the Derby, he exceeded expectations with a 10th-place finish in a crowded field of 20 in the ‘Run for the Roses’.
Dutrow kept him out of the Preakness to train for the Belmont Stakes. He was ridden by Jose Espinosa for the Derby but as of now there is no confirmed jockey for next Saturday’s race. If Espinosa does get the mount that will only add value to these long odds given his past experience with this horse.