Belmont Stakes 2013: Will it be Orb, Oxbow, or another horse?
Belmont Stakes: In the wake of tropical storm Andrea, the track will be wet. Does that favor Orb, Oxbow, or one of the other 12 horses racing Saturday on Long Island, N.Y., for the final Triple Crown race for this year.
O, for a horse race Saturday when the 145th Belmont Stakes takes off from the starting gate near the Big Apple.
Orb will start from post position No. 5. Trainer Shug McGaughey, whose thoroughbred racing office is located at Belmont, feels like his horse will be in a good position to handle whatever might come his way.
“I think, on paper, there is going to be a bit of a pace, so he’ll be able to kind of drop out of it and dictate what he wants to do. If there isn’t, and they’re going in :49 and some change, then he can be laying up there. I just hope he has some place to go when the time comes," McGaughey told NYRA.com Wednesday.
As Tropical Storm Andrea moves over and exits the northeastern US Saturday, there's a good chance the New York track will be wet, a possibility all trainers will factor into their pre-race preparations. Orb won the Derby five weeks ago on a sloppy Churchill Downs track.
"It doesn't really matter whether it's sloppy or fast, you just don't want it to be sticky or heavy," trainer Todd Pletcher said, referring to the track condition. He added that his horses "all have enough pedigree on wet tracks so it won't compromise them too much."
Just two spots to Orb's right will be the Preakness champion in the No. 7 post position. Oxbow is trained by multiple Belmont-winner D. Wayne Lukas, who's more concerned about the competition than the media's interest in starting spots.
" ... at a mile and a half with that long run and the sweeping turns, we have a tendency to overanalyze the post position draw. I’m more concerned about who is around me and what they’re going to do than what gate we got," the Hall of Fame trainer said Wednesday.
Another horse to keep an eye on will be Freedom Child, who has some familiarity with this track. The three-year-old won the Peter Pan Stakes, run at a rainy Belmont Park one week after the Kentucky Derby.
Former Belmont-winning trainer Pletcher leads the field with five horses entered, including Revolutionary, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby. Other Pletcher Derby horses entered in the Belmont are Overanalyze and Palace Malice.
Pletcher will also saddle the only filly, or three-year-old female horse, entered in the race. Unlimited Budget will start one spot from the outside in post position No. 13. Midnight Taboo rounds out Pletcher's starting five.
“We were kind of hoping Unlimited Budget would draw toward the outside. I think Palace Malice, maybe, will show some speed, so we’re happy to be outside of Freedom Child and Oxbow," Pletcher said after the post position draw on Wednesday. “I think [the 1 ½-mile distance] will suit [Revolutionary] well. He’s a horse who turns off really easily. I think he’ll settle in the first part of the race. That’s important if you’re going to get the mile and a half.”
Post time for the Belmont is scheduled for 6:36 p.m. Eastern time. NBC will televise the third leg of the Triple Crown series of races.