HORSE: Mister Sandman
COMMENTS: An older horse, been around the track. Doesn’t have much speed or poise or elegance to its gait, and never looks good in the paddock. Temperamental and moody under the saddle, might need a strong whip to keep in form. Still, seems aware that the Glue Factory in the Sky is close at hand and has the fire and the will to run the track, wet or dry. Charges out of the gate and on the track with focus and undistracted. A comer. Still: stiff in the hindquarters. Trouble in the mud.
HORSE: Booker Man
COMMENTS: Not a racehorse per se, and that will cost Booker Man some oddsmaker enthusiasm. Comes from the circus world as a prominent show horse, able to dance and do dainty two-steps all the while wearing sequined martingale and high fuzzy hat. Past track performances are unimpressive, and horse seems to prefer to whinny and neigh at the gate over running with purpose. May be a smart place or show bet, though, because the horse turns out well and seems easy to train.
HORSE: Kamella My Dreams
COMMENTS: Checkered lineage, hard to measure on this track. Likes clean straightaways, and has had an easy time of it on hometown meets. Hard to see it win or show, but could place if other favorites get injured on the muddy track. Horse seems to prefer to run in the pack, which spells trouble for bettors. Most likely horse just wants to be a number two, though even that is far from certain. Don’t bet the house. Might be an interesting exacta.
HORSE: Biden His Time
COMMENTS: Horse knows the track, knows the race, knows it’s running its last laps at Belmont. Experience cuts both ways, though: Horse has run here before and hasn’t shown. Now running against younger horses with real power out of the gate. Pluses: its own jockey, responds well to touch, and runs best in the mud and bog. Minuses: Can lose focus and forget the path, needs lots and lots of massage, and often prances too much as it approaches the starting gate, losing valuable energy and focus. A favorite, though the wise bet is place or show.
COMMENTS: Powerful hindquarters and broadly muscled, able to bolt out of the gate with power and command. This horse has it all, and has run and won local races — often without the support of the oddsmakers. Got to hand it to this horse, would make a strong top-tier bet, maybe even a win. Runs better than it looks. Drawbacks are newness to the track, though has shown a willingness to run in mud. Strengths are powerful running legs and large lung capacity, plus an aggressive nature, especially with other horses. This may not be the year, but hard to imagine it won’t be running a Triple Crown race in the future.
HORSE: I Warren’d Ya
COMMENTS: Horse has trouble on any track not grass, on any day not sunny. Has had an inconclusive record, and will have trouble sharing the track with the other contenders, especially on the turns. Tends to be stubborn and difficult to ride, and seems angry during workouts and paddock walks. Owners insist sired out of Cherokee stock, but hard to find conclusive paper. Will start strong, but predict a fade by the first turn as the other horses overpower it, and might find more success on a college or university dressage team.
HORSE: Boot Edger
COMMENTS: A classic long shot: small and compact, has been training and running in private, on smaller tracks and county meets. Unclear if the horse has the stamina or the competitiveness to win, and doesn’t seem like it has the spirit to place or show. May start strong and fade. Zero stud potential. Could be a surprise, though, which is why long shots can and do pay off. Maybe be an interesting exacta or pair with a favorite.
COMMENTS: Doesn’t make it out of the gate with any fire, loses steam before the first turn. Seems to take the scenic route, though has shown some promise in smaller tracks. Prefers high-altitude runs, but difficulty making full contact with the track. Not a comer. Long shot, though in nice weather, if the other contenders falter with age or inexperience, might be a smart “what if” bet.
SCRATCHED: Da Blazz-E-O
Horse refused at the gate, never seemed aware that it was in a race at all. Scheduled to be humanely euthanized.