The heavy final workouts for the 2011 Belmont Stakes are done. Now, we wait for Wednesday's announcement of the official field of entrants and the 'morning line' odds. In the meantime, let' scour the Inter-Google for some Belmont Stakes-related news and stories of interest.
The Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom arrived at Belmont Park on Sunday, ensuring that the 143rd Belmont Stakes will not lack in star power or drama. With the Preakness Stakes champion Shackleford already on the grounds, next Saturday’s race will be viewed through the prism of a championship showdown.
Neither Graham Motion, the trainer of Animal Kingdom, nor Dale Romans, who trains Shackleford, had to bring his colt to New York.
Animal Kingdom was a convincing two-and-three-quarter-length winner on the first Saturday in May, then came a half-length short of catching Shackleford in the stretch of the Preakness. Shackleford led the Derby field into the stretch and hung on to finish fourth.
In fact, the numbers show that most trainers and owners choose to take their one Triple Crown race trophy and go home, especially after running the first two legs. It will be just the 22nd time the winners of the first two Triple Crown races have tried to answer the question of who is the best 3-year-old in the land in the Belmont Stakes, the longest and oldest leg of the series.
Prime Cut, third in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes and runner-up in the Lexington Stakes (Grade 3), will head to New York on Tuesday for a run in Saturday's Belmont Stakes following a strong five-furlong work on Monday at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Neil Howard described the work as "excellent," and said it earned the colt a trip to Belmont Park for Saturday's final jewel of the Triple Crown.
"We made the decision the other day that we'd go ahead and run, pending everything going good through this week," Howard said. "He's doing good. We don't feel like we've pushed or reached to much with him, and he's got a nice prep over Belmont. So we kind of left it that we'd go ahead if everything went well this morning, and it did."
BELMONT STAKES 2011: Pari-Mutuel Payouts Since 2000 - And Down The Stretch They Come
The Belmont Stakes, unlike the Preakness the precedes it by three weeks, is a race where favorites have performed relatively poorly over the last eleven years. Since 2000, only three favorites have won the Belmont Stakes - Afleet Alex, Empire Maker and Point Given. (A 27% success rate for favorites isn't a horrible number, it's a bit less than average when you look at the success of favorites nationwide, but it's much less than the Preakness.) While that doesn't help us to find the winner in the race during a specific year, it does give us clues as to whether the betting public is able to figure this race out year-after-year.
2011 Belmont Stakes: Three Final Workouts, All Different - NYTimes.com
The final works are complete for the main Belmont Stakes contenders. The three main protagonists, the Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up Animal Kingdom, the Preakness winner Shackleford, and the Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro, all completed different types of works for their final tune-up, but their connections all made the right noises afterward to signal their happiness with their horses.
-- Saturday's 143rd running of the Belmont is set for a 6:35 p.m. ET post time.