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2010 Belmont Stakes: The Contenders

The field for next Saturday's Belmont Stakes appears to be set with yesterday's announcement that Dave in Dixie has decided to join the party.  Below are the eleven probable starters for the final leg of the 2010 Triple Crown.

Dave in Dixie
First Dude
Fly Down
Game on Dude
Ice Box
Make music for Me
Spangled Star
Stately Victor
Stay Put

A quick glance at the early PPs for this field reveals an absence of early speed.  In fact, there's not really a true blue speed horse in the field, with the possible exception of First Dude.  And even though First Dude was the early leader of the Preakness and ran a huge race off of that effort, you get the feeling that he would probably fare a little better sitting just off the speed. 

Once you get past First Dude, it's tough to find another horse in this field that has any desire to be in the lead after the first quarter of a mile.  Perhaps Spangled Star, since he's actually led a two-turn race in his career (10/14/09, MdSpWt @Laurel), but he hasn't shown that type of speed since that race and he's no guarantee to be out front early.  Stay Put, on dry tracks, is a stone cold closer, but in his two efforts over sloppy and sealed surfaces he's run right up near the lead.  Uptowncharlybrown has flashed hints of pressing speed throughout his career, but he's another that seems unlikely to lead this field early on.

Ice Box will be the favorite come post time, and he'll probably be the heavy favorite.  However, when I take a look at this field and the lack of pace, I start to wonder if he's going to get enough to run at.  It's possible that he'll be too much for this field on class alone, but he also might be compromised by the pace.  He certainly deserves to be the favorite and he's probably the most likely winner but he's nowhere near a lock, in my opinion.

Drosselmeyer didn't have the graded earnings to make the Kentucky Derby, but he'll finally get his shot at a Triple Crown race in the Belmont.  I thought highly of this colt going into the Risen Star stakes back in late February, but his last two efforts leave something to be desired.  He will, however, get a jockey change as Mike Smith will replace Kent Desormeaux.

Dwyer Stakes winner, Fly Down, will probably be the 2nd or 3rd choice at post time (depending on how hard the crowd jumps on First Dude), and he's certainly shown that he's got a bit of class in him.  He flopped pretty badly in the Louisiana Derby and there really doesn't appear to be an excuse for that effort other than he just didn't have it that day.  His performance in the Dwyer, however, seems to indicate that everything is back on track with this Nick Zito colt.  He's run well in his previous races at Belmont, and that's certainly a plus heading into this race.