The BEL – Grade I
BEL Race #9 1 1/2m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $1,500.000 For Three Year Olds.
I hope it isnt the case but if the first two legs of the TC are anything to go by this race is just about picking the horse who is drawn better and has the ability. Ginger Haggis won the Preakness as he liked with an inside draw but failed pretty miserably in the KYD with a wide draw. Shootfromthehip won the KYD impressively from an inside draw but failed in the Preakness from a wide draw. This time its Shootfromthehip that gets the better draw but its not as simple as that as we have to look at all the other runners too because they have all suffered in some way of another. So an initial scan of the draws tells me Shootfromthehip can win but lets look at all the runners and see if there is going to be a new chapter in the HRP playbook.
1 Positive Thinking, trained by Mb Stables
This horse is exactly what i was talking about in my introduction. Great lead up form into the KYD then a horrible draw saw him run down the field. So straight away we have to ignore the KYD run, first because of the sloppy ground but most importantly because of the draw. So taking that run out what have we got, well it looks good enough to be right in this race and he may well turn out to be Mb’s best chance. He broke his maiden in the grade three Lewis Stakes and whilst that looked a bit silly at the time what he has done since proved he was a classy horse and not just a HRP anomaly. His last gasp win in the SA Derby was out of the top draw and he worked very nicely on this track just a week after the KYD suggesting that Mb Stables was laying him out for this race. He comes here a fresh horse and in my mind may be the biggest danger to the two likely favourites.
2 Mucho Cruncher, trained by Aer Stables
Another that is coming into the race fresh with a great draw he has had a very different lead up without a win in any of the TC qualifiers. I liked his run in the LA Derby where he closed hard from a difficult spot to be fourth but he then got in all sorts of trouble in the AR Derby and hasnt been seen on the racecourse since. His works are very sharp and they suggest he is ready for a big effort and i think this trip may really suit him. Can he get in the race after a 2 month lay off? certainly, and like Positive Thinking he may be a rewarding bet at longer odds.
3 The Force Awakens, trained by Diablo Diablo
Yet another who is fresh and is working like a demon he finished in front of Mucho Cruncher in the AR Derby but also had a pretty disappointing TC qualifying campaign. He won the grade one Front Runner as a two year old and then ran pretty well in the BC Juvenile to be sixth and after a hard closing fifth in the Holy Bull he looked like he would qualify for the KYD in good time. A poor effort in the SUN Derby was followed by the decent run in the AR Derby but i do have a few nagging doubts about his racing heart as he tends to quit a little when brought under pressure. Has the works and the form to figure.
4 Indiana Jones, trained by John Henry
Another who looked like he would qualify for the KYD after a second in both the Holy Bull and the San Felipe he closed well from a difficult draw in the SA Derby but didnt have enough points for the big day. He hated the slushy ground on his last start so ignoring that he would have a sound each way chance. His mile work after the SA Derby was as good as anything on the TC chase and he is another with a competitive draw that will be right in everyones calculations.
5 They All Laughed, trained by Mb Stables
Ran really well in both the KYD to be second and The Preakness to be a closing third he has always looked like he needs a marathon trip and today he gets the longest you can get at HRP. This is probably his best draw of the three so you would atleast expect another points finish and as his works havent dropped off it looks like he is in just as good a form as he was in those two races. As the most consistent of his age group he will have his supporters and may even go off favourite against the two horses that have beaten him in the TC so far.
6 Shootfromthehip, trained by Nakamura Stables
After he won the Southwest and Florida Derby’s i was pretty sure he would run a big race in the KYD and he did exactly that with a game win. He had an impossible draw in the Preakness and made up some ground from a wide position but couldnt figure in the finish that day. Back to a good draw today i think he can reproduce his KYD run so he must have a winning chance. He wont mind any weather and should stay this trip without any problems so as long as the arduous campaign hasnt taken its toll i once again am very happy with his chances.
7 Level Charge, trained by Wolfs Den
This lightly raced gelding who was bought for just $25.000 may well be the dark horse of the race. He took an all aged allowance back in April which is always a sign of a mature three year old and then just got up to win the Peter Pan last time out. His work since that win is a little concerning but that just adds to the intrigue and whilst it s hard to write him a winning ticket i can easily see him running well at long odds.
8 How To Laff, trained by Serenity Stables
A really game winner of the Gotham he then ran a cracker to be a close third in the Wood Memorial and i thought he had a good chance in The Preakness but he ran a terrible race to be a well beaten last. I couldnt make any excuses for that run but he is showing signs of inconsistency so it could be dangerous to write him off. He recently changed hands for $400.000 so may not have had the best build up for this race and whilst he does have a chance at his best there are too many good horses here to be really confident of his chances.
9 Mr C, trained by D J C Racing Stables
He was really consistent leading into the KYD finishing a very close third in the Risen Star and fourth in the Florida Derby. Sadly for his trainer and him he was drawn 20 in the Derby and therefore had no chance and ended up a never dangerous last. That run was out of character but even at his best i can only give him a slim place chance in this hot race.
10 The Right Stuff, trained by Mb Stables
Another strong entry from Mb Stables he proved he can live up to this sort of company when winning the Swale Stakes and then finishing a very close third in both the Gotham and the LA Derby. Just touched off by Level Charge in the Peter Pan he was running on strongly at the end of that race so this trip shouldnt be an issue. He isnt the sort that goes out and wins impressively, in fact he may just lack a turn of foot at this level but he is very good and always gives his best so you have to include him if you are trying to pick your top three. Works ways he may be a touch off some of them and has a tough draw to overcome but he should give you a decent run for your money of you pick him.
11 Banshee Star, trained by Joseph Racing
A close second in the SUN Derby he was then drawn wide in the AR Derby and although he was flying at the end he never troubled the top finishers. Drawn 1 in the KYD he ran a cracker in being beaten less than a length in third and his trainer decided to side step the Preakness in favour of bringing a fresh horse into this race. He has never been an impressive worker and may have been flattered by the ground conditions at CD but he is clearly capable and shouldnt be brushed over too quickly in looking for a winner.
12 Ginger Haggis, trained by The Sidley Stud
One of the most impressive winners of the Preakness i think i have ever seen i would have been all over his chances had he been drawn in the top half of this field but sadly he has found the 12 gate here and that will make it tough. One of the best workers and already with over $3,000.000 in prize money to his name there is little doubt in my mind he is the best horse in this race but you only have to look at his run in the KYD to see what a wide draw can do. If you look at his record, he flopped after the BC Juvenile win and then again after his Spiral win so i do wonder about his consistency as well and that is a worry coming off a win in the Preakness. If you are of the school of thought that the sloppy ground beat him in the KYD then he should win this turning cartwheels with a dry track but if, like me, you think the draw may have had something to do with his defeat you may think he can get beat here. Either way his entry sets up a wonderful race.
13 Niner Forty Niner, trained by Serenity Stables
I think this may be the undersung horse in the race because there are all sorts of reasons to like his chances. A hard closing fourth in the KYD he was ridden closer to the pace in the Preakness and ran a super race to be second. Those two races were top notch but i want to go back to his run in the SA Derby to really advertise his chances. Drawn 12 of 12 he was taken all the way to the back of the field from the gate but picked his was though to end up third beaten less than a length. That ability to run well from a bad draw will certainly help him here and whilst i am not sure he can win i do think he can once again cash a TC check.
14 Warrior Chant, trained by Sccj Stables
Ran into some really good form culminating in a game win in the Risen Star but was then handed horrible draws in both the FL Derby and the KYD. He once again gets no favours here and i am struggling to see how he can improve on those other wide draw efforts.
15 Bronx Bomber, trained by Aer Stables
His win in the SUN Derby came a bit from left field but he then put in a pretty decent effort in the KYD from an impossible draw leading for much of the race and ending up a fairly close seventh. One feels the draw will again put him in the lead and there is only one way t go from there at HRP so i am struggling to give him a chance. His works are solid and the stable can turn out big race winners but he faces an uphill task today.
16 Atletico, trained by Our Athletes
Dead heated to win the LA Derby but then got a horrible draw in the KYD and ran a horrible race. Another rubbish draw will make it very hard today but his mile work on this track was very good and if the track Gods decide it is the turn of wide draws today he could well pull of a remarkable win.
This is probably the most interesting of the three TC races in that we are seeing the two winners of the first legs taking on what are probably the best of the rest. Its easy to make a case for all of these especially as most of the ‘best of the rest’ have the best draws today. History tells me its going to be hard for anything drawn outside ten so unless there is some ‘rebalancing’ done in this race i am going with that first of all. Of the 9 that are left Shootfromthehip stands out but it is by no means an easy choice as we also have the likes of They All Laughed in that bunch. If the previous TC form is to be turned over then i rather like The Force Awakens and Level Charge and if a miracle happens and the wide gate is nullified then Ginger Haggis would be an obvious choice. If you are looking for longer odds then Atletico who hated the slop in the KYD could just be one of those horses that turns up in this and from the 16 gate is unlikely to attract much interest.
Good luck to all in what looks like a great race.