Wednesday was the post-position draw for the Belmont Stakes – this is when we (press, fans, horsemen and racing officials) find out where horses will be in the starting gate when they run in the race. It’s an important event, since a horse’s post position can be a big influence on the trainer’s and jockey’s strategy for the early part of the race when the horses leave the gate and head into the first turn. It’s a must-visit event, especially with 14 horses going into this year’s Belmont Stakes.
With that in mind, I got up extra-early Wednesday morning to hop on the Long Island Rail Road and make my way to beautiful Belmont Park to witness the spectacle. Also, there was a free breakfast for attendees of the draw, and you know I won’t pass that up.
I arrived at the track just in time to scarf down a little bacon and eggs and watch as Mike MacAdam and my friend Claire Novak won the 4th annual Joe Hirsch Memorial Writing Contest, presented by the New York Racing Association for the best print and Internet coverage of last year’s Belmont Stakes. Claire’s story about I’ll Have Another’s late scratch from the third leg of the Triple Crown really is great and deserves a read and for her efforts Claire earned herself some loot in that Tiffany box – a very well-deserved honor!
The post-position draw was up next and I got ready to Tweet out the results as they were called out. These are determined by a blind draw, with the horse’s name randomly assigned to a number between one and 14. There’s a palpable tension in the air as the positions were announced, and Twitter was abuzz as assignments are made. In fact, there was so much chatter online about the Belmont that it began trending nationally – pretty cool!
After all of the post positions were determined, the morning-line odds were given out. The morning-line odds are the track’s approximation of what odds they think the horses will be at race time. It’s a difficult process, because the oddsmaker (the person whose job it is to create these odds) has to factor in not only each horse’s ability as compared with the other runners in the race, but also what the public might think of the horses. It’s tricky business! When all was said and done at the Belmont Stakes draw, the post positions and odds were ready; behold, your 2013 Belmont Stakes field:
I apologize for my handwriting. I did not do well in penmanship in elementary school, and as you can see things have not improved since then.
Anyhoodle, after the draw was over the connections of the various horses in the Belmont were available to talk to the press. Mike Repole is a native New Yorker (and the founder of vitaminwater) who wants to win the Belmont Stakes more than any other race in the world. Here’s what he has to say about winning the Test of the Champion: “For some people, it’s the (Kentucky) Derby, but the Belmont is the race I want to win.” This year, Repole has three horses competing in the final jewel of the Triple Crown: Overanalyze, Midnight Taboo and the filly Unlimited Budget. Needless to say, he was swarmed by reporters – I had to take this photo with my arms completely extended above my head to clear the phalanx surrounding him.
Repole’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, was also there – he actually has two other horses in the race in addition to the three aforementioned Repole starters: Palace Malice and Revolutionary round out what’s affectionately being called the “Todd Squad” by the press. As you can imagine, with more than one-third of the horses in the Belmont coming from Todd’s barn, he was also a super-popular guy with the press.
Trainer Dallas Stewart was there as well – he’s sending out Golden Soul, who was second in the Kentucky Derby. His morning line odds are 10-1, and if he stays at that price I might have a bet on him in the Belmont. The best thing about this photo is that Dallas totally caught me sneaking up on him to snap his picture and posed for me at the last second. Well played – I love a little hand on face!
Below is trainer Tom Albertrani (the guy on the right). He has Freedom Child in the Belmont, and he’s another horse to keep an eye on. Freedom Child won his last race at Belmont in the Peter Pan, and he did it impressively: the colt won by 13 ¼ lengths on a very wet track, and with the forecast calling for Noah’s Ark-style monsoons on Saturday he may be a very smart bet.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas was also in attendance. In addition to Preakness winner Oxbow, Lukas will also run Will Take Charge in the Belmont. He was more than happy to answer reporters’ questions, and I for one am really excited to see how Oxbow fares in the Belmont on Saturday!
Here’s trainer Kiaran McLaughlin; he will saddle Incognito in the Belmont, a horse that is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. How cool is that? Gotta love seeing horses owned by royalty competing in one of the best races in the nation!
So here’s the field for the Belmont Stakes – who are you rooting for? Hit me up in the comments and let me know!
After the Draw festivities were over, it was time for me to boogie back to Manhattan so I could meet up with the ABR Brand Ambassadors at Public House in Midtown. This was a great spot to talk to New Yorkers about the Belmont, since it’s a bustling happy hour spot for 20- and 30-year-olds ending their day in the office. Tons of people showed up, and all of them were excited to hear about this weekend’s racing. We had tons of fun giveaways, and once again the jockey goggles were a huge hit.
If you’re in town, be sure to stop by the ABRV’s Thursday night event at The Ainsworth on 26th between 6th and 7th. It should be a ton of fun and we hope to see you there!
$1 million Belmont Stakes
Saturday, Belmont Park, Race 11, 6:36 p.m. ET
1 1/2 miles, 3-year-olds
TV: NBC 5–7 p.m. ET
|1||Frac Daddy||Kenny McPeek||Alan Garcia||30-1|
|2||Freedom Child||Tom Albertrani||Luis Seaz||8-1|
|3||Overanalyze||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||12-1|
|4||Giant Finish||Tony Dutrow||Edgar Prado||30-1|
|5||Orb||Shug McGaughey||Joel Rosario||3-1|
|6||Incognito||Kiaran McLaughlin||Irad Ortiz Jr.||20-1|
|7||Oxbow||D. Wayne Lukas||Gary Stevens||5-1|
|8||Midnight Taboo||Todd Pletcher||Garrett Gomez||30-1|
|9||Revolutionary||Todd Pletcher||Javier Castellano||9-2|
|10||Will Take Charge||D. Wayne Lukas||Jon Court||20-1|
|11||Vyjack||Rudy Rodriguez||Julien Leparoux||20-1|
|12||Palace Malice||Todd Pletcher||Mike Smith||15-1|
|13||Unlimited Budget||Todd Pletcher||Rosie Napravnik||8-1|
|14||Golden Soul||Dallas Stewart||Robby Albarado||10-1|