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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, September 8, 2016 at 12:00 AM


On Friday (9/9) the 2016 Belmont Fall Championship Meet Opens.

There are a number of changes, subtle and otherwise that a handicapper must consider. Chief among them is the return to one mile and mile and a sixteenth races on the dirt as well as the mile and an eight race that goes around one turn on the main track. This is a significant switch from the Spa where they run up to 7 furlongs at one turn and 9 furlongs around two turns.

Although, like Saratoga, there are both an outer and inner turf course, at Belmont the turns are much more forgiving and the necessary jockey tactics and running styles subject to slightly different analysis.

One thing that has not changed over the course of recent history during the opening weeks of this meet is that Saratoga form rules.

Not counting the 2 steeplechase races that were run there were 122 races at Belmont during the opening 3 weeks (13 days.)

Obviously there was a heavy assemblage of horses that switched tracks after running their last races at Saratoga and those horses dominated getting their picture taken in the winner’s circle.

In fact, those horses which were last seen during the Belmont spring meet and waited for the action to switch back to Long Island fared very poorly. Yes, many were the kind of longshots and off form runners that would have fared poorly even had they run up north. From the 62 starters that waited out the Saratoga meet and returned during the 13 day period in question, only 5 managed a win…and the 5 paid $3.30, $4.50, $5.00, $6.20 and $8.60.

There was little help in the exotics either as only 6 finished second and 3 third.

This is not an endorsement for automatically eliminating these layoff runners but you should certainly have a solid reason for backing them.

In addition, of the remaining 117 winners, 7 were first time starters (sharp juvenile maidens are a significant part of this meet) and only 5 shippers (from a sizable sample of 117 runners) managed a victory. That left 105 last out Saratoga runners as the victors.

Nothing is absolute but you are well advised to treat last out Saratoga runners seriously during the opening weeks of the Belmont Fall Championship Meet.


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