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Bunny's Belmont Brigade
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Animal Kingdom is my clear-cut favorite for the Belmont Stakes.  In his races, all the indicators point towards him having the ability to handle the Belmont.  Coming out of the Preakness a little weary, he managed to recover, and has been training well.  Graham Motion’s strategy to race this colt lightly early in his three year old season will give him an edge on the other contenders who also started in the first two Triple Crown races.  Animal Kingdom should handle the track surface well, and if the pace is fast, I expect him to cross the wire first.

I see Master of Hounds as Animal Kingdom’s main opponent in the Belmont Stakes.  Throughout his young career, he has proven to be a resilient racehorse. Master of Hounds has remained at the top of the sport on an international stage for his entire career, which is quite impressive for such a youngster.

This versatile colt performs effectively on dirt, turf, and synthetics.  Master of Hounds has demonstrated is irrepressible spirit despite having a rigorous three year old campaign. He has been shipped to Dubai, America, Ireland, and then America again for the Belmont.  He placed impressively in the UAE Derby, held at the Preakness Stakes distance, and then shipped to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.  Master of Hounds arrived less than one week out from the Derby, missing the opportunity to test, what is known as a difficult track.  Never having raced over a dirt surface, this could have easily knocked him into the bottom of the field.  An added disadvantage was that his first time rider, Garret Gomez, did not have a chance to ride the colt before the Derby. 

In the Derby, he led the second pack of horses, trailing the wall made up by the horses ahead.  After making his move, Garret Gomez had to tap on the breaks when he was trapped behind horses.  The bay colt immediately recovered, and raced onward when there was space.  He was also brushed several times mid-stretch, and, after attempting to run through a spot on the rail, Gomez had to pull his horse back, and go around on the outside.  Even with all the bad luck, he finished gaining on the leaders.  Master of Hounds was drifting to the outside when he passed the finish pole, which may be an indicator that he could have been a little fatigued. Regardless, I’m excited to see if this “globe trotter” is as hardy as I hope he will be.  

Master of Hounds’ pedigree firstly implies he is a great Turf horse whose best suited distance is one mile.  His sire, Kingmambo, found his greatest success at one mile, and his dam, Silk and Scarlet (GB) won a Group II Stakes ran at seven furlongs.  Despite having been bred for half a mile less than the Belmont Stakes, Master of Hounds is racing royalty.

In the Kentucky Derby, Nehro proved his running style could be modified to fit any race by sitting much closer to the pace than in his previous starts as an off-the-pace horse.  I believe the Ahmed Zayat colt will be placed off the lead with Animal Kingdom, and has the capability to recover from infractions during the race.  Jockey, Corey Nakatani, handled Nehro’s run in the Kentucky Derby with such competency that I feel that Nakatani was a factor in how well the colt placed.  If he handles this colt, on this course, with the same keen sense, I believe this talented duo will be a rival for any challenger in the Belmont Stakes.

Shackelfordand his beautiful white blaze, will no doubt, be dictating how this race will be run.  He is built for the distance, and he has enough talent to finish on top of this impressive field.  It is not impossible for a pacemaker to win the 1 ½ mile race, but the only way a pacesetter can win is if the pace is slow.  Even though he did slow down after the quarter mile in the Preakness, I would like to see him pull back early on in the race.  Never having witnessed this, I am not sure if his rider will be able to get him to conserve his energy early enough.  It is vital that all the energy expended during the Belmont be spent wisely.  This colt’s energy level seems to be rising with every race.  Can’t wait to watch this guy go again!

Sixteen members of Brilliant Speed’s family are Belmont Stakes winners.  Despite going nine paths wide around the final turn in the Kentucky Derby, he finished a strong fifth.  Brilliant Speed has a wonderful running style for the Belmont as well, being a come from behind horse.  Having skipped the Preakness, he should be well-rested and fit for the Belmont.  If he is able to stay closer to the rail and cut off some of that distance, he is armed and ready for a strong Belmont Stakes performance.

In my mind, the Belmont Stakes has always been the definition of a great racehorse: grit, stamina, speed, and beauty.  The five strongest contenders mentioned above fit in all of those categories.  I am expecting a great quality race this Saturday.

It is easy for me to get behind Animal Kingdom as the favorite, but I am changing my mind on a moment by moment basis about the place and show finishers.  Of course, this is my prerogative being fourteen years old and a girl.


For more in depth information on all these horses, please visit earlier blog posts:

Animal Kingdom:


Master of Hounds, Nehro, Brilliant Speed:




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