Some random thoughts on yesterday's action at Belmont and Los Alamitos.
Los Alamitos Derby
The Los Al Derby didn't provide any surprises as the top two betting interests - Shared Belief and Candy Boy - ran 1-2 at the finish, although Shard Belief was under no threat of actually losing at any point in the stretch drive.
The splits for the race were pretty legit over a fast Los Al surface - 23.54, 47,53, 1:11.09, 1:35.01, and 1:47.01. Nothing insane in the early parts of the race but a good, solid churn of sub :12 eighth of a mile until the final eighth in 12:00 flat.
Shared Belief looked as good on dirt as he did in his prior races on synthetic, and it came against a field that contained several colts with success at the graded stakes level in Can the Man, Candy Boy and Top Fortitude. While I'm not yet ready to call Shared Belief a "Classic contender" (he's got to take some big steps forward this summer to move into that category), the future does look bright for this gelding if he can stay healthy, something he hasn't been able to do at all this spring. And that fact that he's a gelding at least eliminates the possibility of a quick retirement.
In terms of the runner up, Candy Boy, I was a big fan of his earlier this winter/spring but sort of fell off the bandwagon as he approached the Derby when he started hanging too close to the early speed for my comfort. In the Los Al Derby, however, jockey Joe Talamo took him back at got him to settle at the rear of the main pack, a strategy that I think benefited him in the later stages of the race.
Candy Boy was never going to get to Shared Belief, and I'm not sure this colt is ever going to be a top-level mile and a quarter runner in the future, but I think he could definitely make some noise in the Dirt Mile division if he can employ a more patient running style in future races.
I don't think the Breeders' Cup Classic winner was running in the Suburban at Belmont on Saturday afternoon after watching 13/1 Zivo steamroll past his rivals in deep stretch to win by three at the wire. Betting favorites Romansh and Last Gunfighter were non-factors in a race that was big on field size but light on top-level older Classic horses. Micromanage, another of the Suburban entries expected to get into the mix, also came up empty on quality throughout a race that I'm not sure we're going to look back and consider one of the great events for older horses in 2014.
Zivo, to his and trainer Chad Brown's credit, continues a run of fantastic form that kicked off in mid-October at Belmont. Since that day when he won a state-bred optional claimer/N2X event, he's won seven of eight races with a head defeat in the Move It Now for NY breds at Aqueduct his only defeat. Possessing little to any early speed (the only time he's near the lead early is when the race produces very little in the way of fast opening fractions), Zivo has grinded his way to quality start after quality start his entire career. In 15 lifetime starts, Zivo is yet to finish out of the money (14-8-2-4).
The Suburban, a "handicap", saw the high weight horse tote 120 pounds around the Belmont main track. Do we really need to call a race a handicap when the top weight horse doesn't even carry the Derby weight of 126? But, hey, that's just me.
Mr. Speaker blew up a lot of tickets when he got through along the rail to win the Belmont Invitational by a neck at the wire over European raider and post time favorite Adelaide (IRE). Mr. Speaker, winner of the Lexington over the Poly back on April 19th, broke his maiden over the lawn and scored in the G3-Dania Beach back in late December at Gulfstream. The Belmont Derby was his first attempt at running a mile and a quarter and, needless to say, the added distance was certainly to his liking.
Runner-up Adelaide came to Belmont off of a second place finish in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot just two weeks ago; in an era where horses tend to be given five to six weeks between stakes starts it's nice to see a horse can run big after a quick turnaround (and a trans-Atlantic journey).
If you had simply boxed all four fillies in the Belmont Oaks that ran at Belmont last time out, you would have cashed a nice $2,005.00 trifecta for a $2 base after Minorette, Sea Queen and Summer Solo finished 1-2-3 at the wire. Minoroette and Sea Queen finished 1-2 in the Wonder Again Stakes at Belmont back on May 25th.
I did not box the four fillies that last ran at Belmont. In fact, I didn't construct any kind of wager in the Belmont Oaks that would have returned money into my pocket. It was that kind of day.