Ruler On Ice continued the three-year-old graded stakes upset trend with a surprising tally over Stay Thirsty and Brilliant Speed in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.
Belmont Stakes hero Ruler On Ice - photo by Eclipse Sportswire
The sloppy Belmont Park oval was favoring early-pressing speed throughout the day and the top two Belmont Stakes finishers made their presence felt throughout.
Ruler On Ice has returned to his Monmouth Park base with the Haskell a logical target. His stablemate Pants On Fire goes in Saturday’s Pegasus at the Jersey Shore and also has an eye on the Haskell.
Stay Thirsty and Brilliant Speed will likely spend the summer at Saratoga with the Jim Dandy and Travers on their radar screens.
Belmont Stakes 4th place finisher Nehro came out of the race with a small bone chip in his right front ankle and will have surgery on June 15.
Shackleford set the Belmont pace but came up empty late in a 5th place finish. He could not quite handle the marathon distance and should be much more effective in a race like the Haskell.
Animal Kingdom clipped heels and jockey John Velazquez lost his irons in a disastrous beginning. The Derby hero ended up a better than appears 6th and will target the big summer races (Haskell, Travers).
The rest were far back including the disappointing Master of Hounds, Mucho Macho Man, and Santiva. The latter reportedly did not handle the wet going.
This year’s Triple Crown series was a wild ride of upsets and the 3-year-old title is up for grabs. What surprises are in store for the second half of the year? I can’t wait to find out…stay tuned!
Mucho Macho Man appeared to be sitting on ready for the Preakness but a less than ideal start, wide journey, and another shoe episode derailed his chances. Can he rebound in the 2011 Belmont Stakes?
Mucho Macho Man tries to rebound at Big Sandy - photo by Eclipse Sportswire
Kathy Ritvo’s immature son of Macho Uno has been a trifecta player in 8 of 10 lifetime starts and he still won’t officially turn three until after the Belmont Stakes.
Mucho Macho Man has plenty of graded experience (7 starts) with one win and four placings, including a show finish in the Kentucky Derby.
He gets a rider switch to Ramon Dominguez and has been outfitted with a new pair of shoes. He has more speed than he showed in Kentucky and Baltimore and uncorked a five furlong Belmont Park bullet in :59.57 on June 5.
Mucho Macho Man has the tactical speed and raw ability to compete in the Test of Champions. His long distance pedigree is less than stellar but he rates contender status in a wide open renewal of the Belmont Stakes.
Monzon failed to hit the board in three prior graded stakes races and will attempt to turn things around in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
The gelded son of ’95 Belmont Stakes hero Thunder Gulch has faced the starter eight times with three wins to his credit. He romped in a pair of flat mile starts in Maryland (dirt) and Delaware (turf) last year and started 2011 with an Aqueduct inner dirt tally in the Count Fleet Stakes, beating the likes of Pants On Fire.
The wheels came off the cart with a non-threatening 5th in the Sam Davis and a 6th in the Peter Pan but he figures to be grinding away late. Hi aforementioned sire Thunder Gulch threw 2001 Belmont Stakes winner Point Given.
Monzon will represent legendary Sagamore Farm and the late striding three-year-old will have to kick his game up a notch or two to compete for a minor award. A minor award in not out of the question.
The distance of Belmont Stakes 2011should not pose a problem for Brilliant Speed but the conventional dirt footing is a question he must still answer.
Brilliant Speed seems better on dirt and synthetic - photo by Eclipse Sportswire
Brilliant Speed, trained by Tom Albertrani and owned by Live Oak Plantation, was beaten more than forty-lengths in a pair of dirt sprints to kick off his career in New York last summer. He showed signs of life in a pair of Belmont turf route show finishes before graduating on the Tampa Bay weeds in December.
That turf maiden win seemed to do wonders for his confidence and he followed that up with a pair of near misses in the grass stakes ranks. He burst onto the Derby scene with a surprising late running tally in the Blue Grass Stakes and ended up 7th of 19 on the first Saturday in May.
Brilliant Speed, a 3-year-old son of Dynaformer, out of Gone West mare Speed Succeeds, will once again have the services of leading Southern California rider Joel Rosario, and although the mile and a half Belmont Stakes distance should be well within his reach, he must still prove that he can run a big race on dirt.
One of the most intriguing 2011 Belmont Stakes contenders is Uncle Mo’s stablemate Stay Thirsty.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Mike Repole, Stay Thirsty began his career with a runner-up sprint effort at Belmont Park last summer. He easily earned his diploma at Saratoga second time out subsequently placed in the Grade 1 Hopeful at seven furlongs.
Stay Thirsty is the forgotten Belmont horse - photo by Eclipse Sportswire
Stay Thirsty returned from two-month break to finish a well-beaten 5th behind Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He went to Florida to prepare for his three-year-old campaign, which started off with a bang in Aqueduct’s Gotham Stakes.
After the Gotham he returned to South Florida but wilted in the Florida Derby heat. He was hardly on top of his game for the Kentucky Derby and he barely made a whimper back in 12th.
Stay Thirsty has yet to live up to his potential but the son of Bernardini (A.P. Indy), out of Storm Bird mare Marozia, is bred to handle the Belmont Stakes trip and looms a pace player at the very least under Javier Castellano. He has experience racing and training over the Belmont Park surface and could help his connections heal from the sting of Uncle Mo’s adventurous spring with a win in the Test of Champions.
Preakness winner Shackleford could be worth trying to beat in Belmont Stakes 2011 based on a suspect marathon pedigree.
The Dale Romans charge did not seem to care for synthetic ground in his career debut but rebounded smartly to graduate in a conventional dirt extended sprint at Churchill Downs to end his juvenile campaign in November.
Shackleford gets a stamina test at Big Sandy - photo by Eclipse Sportswire
Shackelford resurfaced at Gulfstream Park and promptly nabbed an entry level route to begin his three-year-old season. He flopped in the Fountain of Youth and in the Florida Derby he just failed to hold off Dialed In.
Foretry’s chestnut son was the picture of health leading up to the Kentucky Derby and he set a surprisingly slow pace before weakening in the late stages to finish a respectable 4th under the Twin Spires.
Shackleford was dismissed at almost 13-1 in the Preakness and he tracked sprinter Flashpoint through a solid half mile in :46 and change. The pace slowed down considerably from there and that was the key to success in Baltimore. With a strung out field and a controlled tempo for the second half on the race, Shackleford had enough left in the tank to hold off Kentucky Derby hero Animal Kingdom.
There is no denying that Shackleford is rapidly improving but his numbers have climbed in three straight and his chances of uncorking another big number at twelve furlongs appear unlikely.
Shackleford gets stamina from dam sire Unbridled but he appears most effective when able to set or press solid splits. If he goes slow early like he did in the Kentucky Derby then he will bring the field back to him while losing his best weapon (speed).
Santiva is rapidly becoming everyone’s live longshot for Belmont Stakes 2011 and for good reason. Eddie Kenneally’s colt has shown steady progress this year and could be sitting on a top effort in the Test of Champions.
Santiva is a live Belmont longshot - photo by Eclipse Sportswire
After a pair of underneath finishes to begin his career for Ken McPeek at Saratoga last summer, Santiva was transferred to Todd Pletcher and rallied for the place in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland while still a maiden.
Once again he switched barns and graduated in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs for his current conditioner Kenneally. He earned a career top when landing the place behind Mucho Macho Man in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February and had everything go wrong in a troubled Blue Grass run on Keeneland’s Polytrack April 16.
Santiva was hardly disgraced in a 6th place effort on the first Saturday in May and he garnered a career top speed figure that day. He was briefly considered for the Preakness and comes into the Belmont Stakes fresh and ready to roll.
The son of Giant’s Causeway has the pedigree to handle the Belmont Stakes journey and owns the right grinding running style. Santiva’s last two five furlong Churchill Downs workouts appear solid and he should offer wagering value at Big Sandy.