Only five three-year-olds go to post for this contest, and it’s possible to make a case for each one of them.
Mischevious Alex sets the standard on Timeform ratings having completed a hat-trick of wins in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in March, although it’s possible that a couple of these may improve past him.
ECHO TOWN was a game winner over 6 furlongs at Churchill Downs last time, and prior to that, had gone down by just a head to a very progressive sprinter at Oaklawn. He may have more to offer and can take this step up in grade in his stride.
This race features a fascinating clash between two unbeaten and progressive fillies in the shape of GAMINE and Casual.
Gamine made an impressive winning debut by over six lengths at Santa Anita in March before having to work harder to win an optional claimer at Oaklawn next time, digging deep to prevail by a neck in a good time. She looks open to more progression and represents the all-conquering Bob Baffert stable.
Casual wasn’t as impressive as Gamine when taking her debut race at Oaklawn, but showed a good attitude, and then improved to take an optional claimer at Churchill Downs on her next start.
She ought to move forward again, although Gamine may have just too much for her at this stage. Of the others, Perfect Alibi is already a Grade 1 winner and should run her race, though she is more exposed than most.
A Grade 2 winner at Keeneland in October, STUBBINS then went on to finish a good fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in November.
A little unlucky on his comeback at the latter track last month (stopped in his run at a crucial time), there is a feeling that Stubbins has unfinished business as a sprinter, having started last year as a potential Classic candidate.
With the likes of Hidden Scroll and Pure Sensation in the field, there should be enough pace to set up Stubbins’ late kick, provided he gets a clean passage through this time.
The aforementioned Pure Sensation is a hard-knocking type who can be relied upon to run his usual race, though he perhaps lacks a bit of star quality. Oleksandra is another that falls into the same category and it will be a little disappointing if Stubbins doesn’t prove to have more upside than that pair.
In what has been an unusual year to say the least, things get a little stranger still as the Belmont Stakes, normally the third and final leg of the US Triple Crown, now becomes the first leg, while shortening in distance by three furlongs.
That creates a very different dynamic to a race that is often won by the strongest stayer rather the most talented individual.
With considerations over who will or won’t stay out of the window, the race should boil down to natural ability alone, and none of this field have currently accomplished as much as Tiz the Law. An impressive winner of his last two starts at Gulfstream Park, the latest in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, Tiz the Law has plenty in hand on Timeform ratings. The market will obviously be alive to that fact, though, so it may be worth looking for a bit of each-way value.
One that could well be overpriced is Steve Asmussen’s PNEUMATIC, who is trading around a decent price at the time of writing. A winner of his first two starts, this son of Uncle Mo was far from disgraced when third to Maxfield in a Grade 3 contest at Churchill Downs last time.
Maxfield was towards the head of the Kentucky Derby betting before injury curtailed his season, so that looks solid form. With just three starts under his belt, there should be plenty more to come from Pneumatic, and he while needs to improve to turn over Tiz the Law, he looks worth chancing at a big price.
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