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Analyzing the Top Belmont Contenders

Updated: 06/03/2003

Using historical trends and the past performances for the horses entered in the Belmont Stakes, we have weighted several factors to develop the following ranked list, similar to what was done for the Derby and Preakness. Each horse was given points for his conformation to a Belmont winner's profile and points were subtracted for negative aspects. Of course this does not guarantee that the horse with the most points will win, but it does give you a good idea who to eliminate from the winning position. It follows that if a horse doesn't fit the winner's profile, he may still finish in the money, much like how handicappers might bet anti-bias horses on the bottom of exotics. Although this technique did not work in the Derby, it did single out Funny Cide as the winner of the Preakness.

For more information on the trends and statistics used in this analysis, check out the book Triple Crown Handicapper 2003 by Jim Mazur.

Unlike in the other two Triple Crown races, workout patterns aren't as important in the Belmont. These horses should already be at their peak condition having come out of grueling preps against top competition, so their trainers will send them out for maintenance works saving their best effort for the race. Peter Pan horses generally have one work before the Belmont, while horses coming out of the Preakness will have two, but these are not hard and fast rules pointing at a winner.

The Belmont winner's profile requires a dosage index under 4.00 - this angle is stronger in the Belmont than at the Derby - but since all twelve contenders we looked at qualify we need only mention this fact here. Another angle is Beyer triple tops, where a horse's last three starts were three consecutive increasing career highs. No horse in the field so far qualifies here, but if one did, this is a huge knock since that horse is most likely to bounce over the 1 1/2 mile marathon at Belmont Park.


Funny Cide winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness will go for the Triple Crown in the Belmont.
Funny Cide - He's on his home ground of Belmont Park trying to be racing's twelfth Triple Crown winner. And it's little surprise he scored the most points under this analysis. The preferred running style in the Belmont is stalking, which is how Jose Santos and Funny Cide won the Derby and Preakness so easily. He made his last start in the Preakness which is the preferred Belmont prep, he had the required number of races and the required stakes win(s) at 3, ran a sharp race last out, is within the acceptable layoff length between starts (in his case 3 weeks), has won at 9 furlongs or longer, and he has run to the Beyer par of 106. His only knock is that he only had 3 starts at two, where the profile calls for 4 to 6 starts. If the profile holds true we will have a Triple Crown winner on June 7.

Empire Maker - Skipping the Preakness and not having a prep race between the Derby and Belmont means Empire Maker has too long a layoff; the preferred length is between 13 and 22 days. Empire Maker also stalks, has enough races and a stakes win at 3, ran a sharp last race (Derby runner-up), has won at 9 furlongs (the Wood Memorial), and has run to the Beyer par. Like Funny Cide, he does not have enough starts as a two year old.

Best Minister - * WITHDRAWN due to a lung infection * Ken McPeek is looking to repeat the Sarava upset of last year with this one, winner of the Sir Barton Stakes on Preakness day last out. This means he is within the correct layoff range and is coming off a sharp prep race. He is a stalker, has enough starts at three with the required stakes win, and has a win at 9 furlongs (his maiden win, by 12 lengths). On the negative side he was underraced at 2 and has not run to the Beyer par.

Dynever - This latecomer is coming out of the Lone Star Derby (a win), an untested prep race for the Belmont. He also stalks the pace, has enough races and a stakes win at three, ran a sharp race last out, and has a win at 9 furlongs. However, he did not come out of the Preakness, his layoff is too long (by one week) did not race enough at 2, and hasn't run to the Beyer par figure


Scrimshaw winner of the Lexington and third place finisher in the Preakness.
Scrimshaw - Coming out of the Preakness with a third place finish means he has the required sharp prep race, despite being beaten by 10 1/2 lengths. He also stalks, has enough races and stakes wins at 3, and has the correct layoff. On the negative side, he was underraced at 2, has not won at 1 1/8 miles, and has not run to the Beyer par.

Ten Most Wanted - The Illinois Derby winner ran a disappointing ninth in the Kentucky Derby and has not started since, so he is not coming off a sharp prep nor is his layoff within range, and he was underraced at 2. On the positive side, he is a stalker, has enough starts and a stakes win at 3, has won at 1 1/8 miles, and has run to the Beyer par.

Supervisor - Another latecomer, he comes off a third place finish in the Peter Pan, which qualifies as a sharp race within the profiled layoff length. Unlike the horses we ranked above, he is a deep closer which is not the preferred style in the Belmont (ralliers have won just 18% of the last 17 Belmont Stakes). Also unlike many of our top contenders, he actually has the correct number of two-year-old starts, but has too many three-year-old starts, without a stakes win, which are negatives. As well, he has no 9-furlong victories and has not run to the Beyer par.

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Kentucky Derby logo courtesy of Churchill Downs. Photos ©2003 Cindy Pierson Dulay, licensed to About.

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