Horses that can win the Belmont Stakes

There is still some uncertainty about the field for the Belmont Stakes — as you would expect a week before the entries are due. As the prospective field sits now, though, eight probables stand out as horses than can win the Belmont Stakes. (Odds to win are from

Orb (+350)

It’s still not entirely certain that the Kentucky Derby winner will go in the Belmont, and his status has actually become less certain in recent days. I would still bet we’ll see him, though. Trainer Shug McGaughey is based at Belmont, so he won’t want to miss out on his home track race if his horse is ready. He needs to improve dramatically from his Preakness form, but we know how talented he is, and this track should suit him better than Pimlico did. Despite the disappointment last time out, Orb would still have to be viewed as the horse to beat.

Revolutionary (+350)

He was a strong third in the Derby, and then trainer Todd Pletcher rested him in anticipation of this race. Calvin Borel has been replaced by Javier Castellano in the saddle, which is a real positive because Borel has not fared well on this track in limited experience. The horse still has to overcome the fact that he will be looking to run much the same race as Orb and doesn’t appear to be quite as good. Still, he is a serious contender.

Oxbow (+450)

The Preakness winner is back for another try. The condition of a horse that has run in all three races is always a concern, and in recent years the iron horses haven’t fared that well. Oxbow is bred to run forever, though, and jockey Gary Stevens and trainer D. Wayne Lukas both know how to win this race. The more I have watched the Preakness replay, the more clear it becomes that it was far from a fluke. That was a very good horse that benefited from a perfect ride. It could all happen again.

Golden Soul (+1000)

At almost 35/1 in the Derby, almost no one gave this horse much credit. When the dust settled, though, he was clearly second-best. Like the rest of the Top-5 finishers, he benefitted from the crazy early pace in that race. He looked very good doing it, though, and showed that he was and is a better horse than it seemed. His breeding is very well suited for this race, and he has trained well through his break since the Derby. The price still needs to be right because he’s likely not as good as the top horses on their best day, but if things went his way he could absolutely win.

Overanalyze (+1500)

The 11th-place finish in the Derby was a massive disappointment for the Arkansas Derby winner. He just didn’t show up. The effort exposed the weakness of the Arkansas Derby. The horse is back here, though, and he’ll be rested. His best race was way back in November, but if he can meet and improve on that effort then he could be a factor. At this level sometimes you just have to give a horse a mulligan for a lousy race, and this could be such a situation.

Will Take Charge (+1500)

The other D. Wayne Lukas horse was closing fast in the Derby until he ran into a rapidly-retreating Verrazano and had to check his forward progress. That made him a popular underdog bet in the Preakness, but his effort there was flat. The Belmont should be a better spot, though. The horse is huge, and his long legs and massive strides should be well suited to the long turns and big straights of the Belmont track. He needs to have the best day of his life, but we’ve already learned that you can’t count out a Lukas horse right now. Jon Court was aboard for the strong Derby performance. He lost the mount for the Preakness but is back again. That should be a positive.

Freedom Child (+800)

The Peter Pan Stakes has become a popular prep race for the Belmont Stakes in the eyes of public bettors, even though it has produced far more hype than results. This horse is coming off a win in that race the week after the Derby, so he will get some buzz. The win was indeed more than solid, but there are a couple of reasons for concern. Most significantly, it was only the second win of his six-race career, and it was a far better effort than we had seen in the other five outings. Still, the win was over this same Belmont surface, so we know he likes the track. He’s also a grandson of A.P. Indy, so the distance should suit him. I’m skeptical, but at the right price he would be worth some consideration.

Unlimited Budget (+1500)

Todd Pletcher is generally lousy in Triple Crown races. He has only entered one filly in this race before, though, and Rags To Riches became the first filly to win it since 1905 with her 2007 victory. You have to pay attention when he enters another filly, then. She’d been unbeaten in four races heading into the Kentucky Oaks, but she didn’t fire and wound up just third. Pletcher obviously saw something there and since, though, because it seems like she’s facing the boys in the biggest of tests. The biggest reason for concern is that owner Mike Repole, the founder of Vitaminwater, is so desperate to win this race that he would enter anything with four legs. She knows how to win, though, and could win here on her best day.

2013 Preakness Betting Tips

As we get ready to bet the second jewel of this year’s Triple Crown, we need to be focused on finding the winner. These four Preakness betting tips will help you make a winning bet on May 18:

Don’t just default to the Derby winner

I want to see a Triple Crown winner more than I want to see anything else in sports. That can blind me to all horses other than the one who was just wearing roses. For many years I had a strict policy. I made just one Preakness bet no matter what — the Derby winner to win. At times that has been a profitable approach — even over longer periods — but it isn’t generally a strong approach. For every time you get to bet on a horse like Big Brown or I’ll Have Another, you also end up with a real dud like Giacomo or Monarchos.

Winning the Derby is a very tough challenge. Horses have to overcome a massive, incredibly loud crowd that can easily spook them and cause them to bolt — as it did this year for Vyjack. They have to deal with many more horses than they are used to, and those horses can act more like walls than anything else at times. This year, Will Take Charge was making a nice move down the stretch, but he ran into a rapidly-reversing Verrazano, and all momentum was lost. They have to run further than they have ever run before and further than most are really bred to handle. They also may have to deal with a strange pace scenario, like this year and the suicidal early speed of Palace Malice. Sometimes the horse that can overcome all that and win is the best horse in the field. Sometimes, though, it’s just the horse that was in the best situation to benefit from the circumstances on the day (I’m talking to you, Mine That Bird).

Before you automatically and blindly pick Orb this year, you need to evaluate just how good he really is and whether he really deserves your attention and support. His win was very impressive, and he was favored going into the race, so you can’t argue that his win was a fluke. He did benefit from some things in this race, though — that crazy early pace set the race up perfectly for a closer like Orb, the sloppy track didn’t suit a lot of horses as well as it did Orb, and Joel Rosario was able to find a perfect path through the crowd. There is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding to bet Orb n the Preakness — just make sure that you are doing it because he is the best horse, not just because he won his last race.

A bad Derby can be overcome

Sometimes a horse with high hopes can have a truly disastrous Derby. Goldencents is a perfect example this year. He needs to be on the lead early on, so when Palace Malice ran away early on, Goldencents chased him. No horse could have held on under that strain, and Goldencents faded to 17th. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he was a horrible, overrated horse. The pace scenario doomed him. On a better day with a more honest pace, Goldencents could again be competitive. History provides plenty of examples of horses that bounce back from a bad Derby to make history in the Preakness. Point Given was horrible in Kentucky in 2001 then dominated the Preakness and the Belmont. Afleet Alex didn’t fire on Derby day in 2005 then won the last two legs. Hansel was the heavy favorite in the 1991 Derby, but he struggled badly and was 10th. He also won the last two legs. There are more, but you get the point.

I’m not saying that Goldencents or Itsmyluckyday or Will Take Charge will win their next two races. I’m just saying you can’t safely assume that they won’t.

Don’t fall in love with fresh horses

The Preakness is typically made up of a group of horses from the Derby joined by horses that are joining the Triple Crown trail at the second stop. Sometimes those new faces are exceptional runners that are clearly worthy of your attention — like Rachel Alexandra and Bernardini. This year, though, there are no great horses among the newcomers. Govenor Charlie, Departing or Titletown Five are all interesting enough to warrant some consideration. The fact is, though, that if they were good enough to contend with the top horses from the Derby then they would have been entered in the Derby. The Kentucky Derby is the biggest race on the planet, so if you have a shot to win it you usually take it. Fresh horses don’t always — or usually — mean good bets.

Forget about post position

The post positions in the Derby are a ridiculously overplayed angle. By now we have hopefully realized that there are many, many factors that are more significant in a race that long and that crazy than where they start. In the Preakness, the post positions matter even less from a handicapping perspective. You might think that the opposite would be true because of the narrower track and shorter distance, but that just hasn’t proven to be the case.

In this race don’t let the post positions turn you off of a horse or push you towards another one.

Written by Doc Sports from