6:35pm update: Da’Tara wins; Big Brown finishes last! Da’Tara led from beginning to end of race. Worst finish for a horse that had won first two legs of the Triple Crown. What an upset!!! Casino Drive who was favored to win or place second was scratched this morning.
Today the Belmont Park Race Track will host the Belmont Stakes and more than 100,000 spectators are expected.
Big Brown is the big favorite to win the first Triple Crown in 30 years, but don’t expect the other horses in the field to let him run away with it.
Big Brown breezed through the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and is a high-priced 2/5 favorite in his quest to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown champion.
This is no easy feat, 18 other horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown series only to see their dreams of equine immortality dashed on the humbling stretch drive at Belmont Park.
Big Brown’s own jockey, Kent Desormeaux, lost his previous Triple Crown shot in 1998 when his horse Real Quiet was worn down in the final strides of the Belmont and was edged by Victory Gallop.
It was revealed a couple of days ago that Casino Drive, Big Brown’s biggest competitor in today’s race has a problem with his left hind leg and may scratch. I hope that Casino Drive is OK and runs the race.
If Casino Drive stays in the race, no matter how good Big Brown is there’s no way that either he or Casino Drive would win a mile and a half race going 45 and change for the first half mile. Yes, it’s more likely that Casino Drive and Big Brown will just play cat and mouse with each other on the backstretch, but if that’s the case another issue opens up for Casino Drive.
Does Casino Drive’s jockey Edgar Prado push the gas and decide to cause some separation between himself and Big Brown? In that scenario Kent D. on Big Brown would have no choice but to go with Casino Drive. Big Brown is the type of horse that needs to be no less than two or three lengths behind the speed. Desormeaux will not have the luxury of deciding not to take on Casino Drive early. It just wouldn’t work.
What do all of these pace scenarios mean? That a race that suddenly appeared like a match race 24 hours ago is suddenly wide open!
Sometimes two horses that feel they are the main competition to each other run that way in the actual race and they both forgot about the other horses. If that happens in the 2008 Belmont Stakes, then I can see a scenario where Casino Drive and Big Brown are so involved with each other that one of those double-digit long-shots comes in for the kill on the stretch and wins.
So Big Brown’s big task today is to keep his focus throughout the entire race and then pour it on at the top of the stretch. Kent Desormeaux task is to be patient and make sure he doesn’t ease up once Big Brown gets to the 3/8 mile pole. That is when he has to make sure Big Brown gets and maintains the lead.
Contenders: Big Brown, Guadalcanal, Macho Again, Denis of Cork, Casino Drive, Da Tara, Tale of Ekati, Anak Nakal, Ready’s Echo and Icabad Crane.
First race starts at 12:00pm EST. ABC and ESPN will provide live coverage of the Belmont Stakes at 5pm EST.