I am going to predict something here, I almost never do. A European horse, MASTER OF THE HOUNDS, will take it this year. Most of the time, horses that ship over here, a 12 hour plus plane ride are just too stressed to do well against our fresh horses, even if they are better prepped and they usually are! We all know how jet lag feels! Try running soon after such a trip! I think MASTER OF THE HOUNDS will be that exception this year. He ships super well. His long plane flights seem to minimally bother him with a case in point being is ride earlier this year to the Dubai Derby where he finished a nice second. In the Kentucky Derby after another long ship right before that effort, he finished 5th but was making up ground at the end looking like he could have taken the roses, if that race had been a tad longer. Knowing the Irish and their habit of racing longer races, more like our Belmont Stakes, they know how to get a horse ready for a mile and a half. It is reported by the head stable lad that Master of the Hounds has been getting fast works, twice-a-week since his trip back from the Kentucky Derby, and I think this will be another key why he will take the Belmont this year. His work schedule is hidden from the general public and the DRF when he is home in Ireland. Our USA horses are mostly babied up to the Belmont following our mantra of always racing a “fresh” horse. Our view of fresh horses is a horse with a lot of rest and not stressed between the Derby and the Belmont. None of the USA horses in this year’s Belmont have breezed over 5f as a prep for the Belmont’s mile and a half distance. Give me a royal break! Are they crazy? How can any horse be ready for a mile and a half effort by doing so little work? They can’t? They run on guts alone. I suspect Master of the Hounds will have good old Irish training as an advantage in this one and taking his penchant for easy shippping–Watch out! Plus I like him starting on the rail! That should save him ground for a long effort if he stays put for a while once he reaches the rail.
(1) MASTER OF THE HOUNDS (#1)
(2) SHACKLEFORD (#12). . . . . . . . This horse did well in the Derby and Preakness and should have the guts to continue in the Belmont, but due to his classic lack of training which is typical in the USA, he will probably be sorely tested by the Belmont’s distance. He won’ t have the depth to pull it off. Few USA horses have that training depth any more to do the mile and a half well, let alone take the triple crown.
(3) RULER OF ICE (#3). . . . . . . . . . This is my long, long shot pick. I just have a hunch he may do well. His beyers are not that impresssive, but so what? A mile and a half is a different animal. He starts close to the rail and should get a good trip if the jock and luck is on his side.