Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 12:09 PM
BELMONT STAKES BULLETIN
VOLUME 16 - Number 2
THOSE WHO CONTEND DERBY RUNNERS WHO SAT OUT THE PREAKNESS HAVE AN EDGE IN THE BELMONT MIGHT NOT BE EXAGGERATORS
As someone who picked Palace Malice to win the 2013 Derby I still add a sarcastic "yeah but" every time I rightly (I suppose) hear the virtues of jockey Mike Smith extolled. Yet I am also appreciative of the history that saw trainer Todd Pletcher hold Palace malice out of the Preakness and train up to win the Belmont Stakes at $29.80!
With that anecdote now on the page there is now the suggestion that we should look to see just how productive this maneuver has been (taking as a sample) the last 10 years. Below is a list by year of those three-year olds that ran in the Kentucky Derby, skipped the Preakness Stakes and without running another race during the five week interval ran in the Belmont. Next to the name of the horse is the position they finished at in the Derby and the position they finished at in the Belmont Stakes.
NOTE: There were only seven horses that challenged American Pharoah in the Belmont last year and as you can see, five of them met the pattern.
Wicked Strong...4th...4th (DH)
NOTE: The 1-2 finishers of the Belmont Stakes this year were Tonalist and Commissioner who made their final prep 4 weeks earlier in the Peter Pan Stakes and they finished 1-2 in that local prep as well.
NOTE: In this race Dullahan went off the post time 2.5-1 favorite virtue of his good Derby and Union rags the 2.75 second favorite after his disappointing Derby run. This was also the year Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another scratched the day before the Belmont.
Master Of Hounds...5th...10th
NOTE: In 2011, in addition to the five Derby ex-patriots there were 4 last out Preakness runners in the field of twelve, including Derby winner Animal Kingdom (2nd in Preakness...6th in Belmont), Shackleford (4th in Derby...Won Preakness...5th in Belmont) and Mucho Macho man (3rd in Derby, 6th in Preakness, 7th in Belmont.) However, it was Ruler On Ice, whose last two preps were a second in the Tesio 5 weeks earlier and a third in the Sunland Derby prior to that who pulled the upset.
Make Music For Me...4th...10th
NOTE: As was the case in 2014 the top two Peter Pan finishers in 201 were Fly Down and Drosselmeyer and those two reversed position to run 1-2 in the Belmont.
Mr. Hot Stuff...15th...8th
NOTE: 2009 was the year Mine That Bird blew up the Kentucky Derby tote...ran second in the Preakness, third in the Belmont and never won another race.
Denis Of Cork...3rd...2nd
Anak Nakal...7th...4th (DH)
Tale Of Ekati...4th...6th
This was the year Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown was eased in the Belmont Stakes.
NOTE: Only seven runners competed. The filly Rags To Riches won the Kentucky oaks the day prior to the Derby, waited for this and upset the colts. Preakness winner Curlin ran second and Preakness third and fourth place finishers Hard Spun and C P West ran fourth and fifth in the Belmont.
Bob And John...1th...8th
There are two raw stats to glean from this:
ONE...With a dead heat for third and another for fourth figured in the numbers of first through fourth place finishes there remains at a total of ten for each of first through third and eleven for fourth.
There were 40 Derby runners who skipped the Preakness and ran in the Belmont. Here are the results for first through fourth:
By comparison there were 66 Belmont runners over the same 10 year period who did not fit the Derby-break-Belmont scenario and their collective results were as follows:
The other raw stat to glean from this analysis is how these Derby to Belmont horses performed compared to their post time prices in the Derby and the Belmont...BUT YOU WILL HAVE TO REVISIT THURSDAY FOR THAT IMPORTANT PIECE OF INFORMATION and more useful BELMONT BULLETIN OVERVIEWS.
POSTSCRIPT...A BRIEF LOOK BACK
In my most recent Belmont Bulletin (check the archives) I mentioned the potential wrong analysis of believing the further runners go (mile and a half Belmont Stakes) the better they will do if they closed well in the Derby and/or Preakness.
In addition to the race shape analysis that mostly disproves this I would like to add the following anecdote.
At the risk of dating myself, in 1969, Majestic Prince had won the Derby (Bill Hartack's last Derby Winner) and the Preakness and ONLY 5 three-year olds lined up against him in the Belmont Stakes.
When they broke from the gate, notorious deep closer DIKE was on the lead as they hit the mile marker. When asked after the race why he had put the successful late runner on the lead jockey Belmonte said in effect, "I didn't put him on the lead. The half mile went in 51 seconds, Dike was running his race."
Whether that slow down tactic worked or didn't, Dike finished third as Arts And Letters took the lead just past that mile marker, went 6 furlongs in the slop in 1:16 and Majestic Prince could do no better than second.