Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

22 May 2011

Take a shot

Animal Kingdom proved himself to be a legit dirt runner yesterday and will be a major threat going forward. Shackleford will have something to prove moving forward off of this race, he was up on a pace that was much faster and more contested than the Derby and have enough in the reserves to hold off a horse that blew by him two weeks prior. Three-year-old colts can make dramatic improvements from race to race in the spring, but to do these two things in one race is a little hard to believe.

One race left to go to the annual spring series and for a third straight year the crown is not on the line. A bust for bartenders at Belmont and ticket holders looking flip their tickets. There could still be lemonade made out of these lemons though. Animal Kingdom can be the first Derby-Belmont winner since Thunder Gulch if the connections see fit to enter him. Shackleford can prove that his Preakness win was not bias aided (being off the rail in the stretch was key) if he can last the grueling 12 furlongs of the Belmont Stakes. While it doesn’t have the sizzle or flash of a Triple Crown bid, it certainly makes for an interesting rematch with the likely possibility of Nehro running as well.

Street Sense and Super Saver both opted to pass the Belmont after defeats in the Preakness, with the bigger picture of making the Travers in mind. It worked out well for Street Sense, not so much for Super Saver. There is a reason for skepticism that Animal Kingdom would run in the last leg based on this, the same goes for Shackleford. Graham Motion is a conservative trainer who likes more time in between races as well, so another big race in three weeks with other big purse possibilities looming further down the road also gives one a moment of pause on the likelihood of the Derby winner making the Belmont.

Shackleford was all out to hold off the onslaught of closers in his last three efforts, 1 ½ miles gives the runners that excel in the last half of a race more time to make their moves. There is also the issue of this horse laying it all on the line like he did in his last three starts, how much is left in the tank for another big effort?

The Belmont Stakes could very well decide the Eclipse Award this year if both of the classic winners decide to show up. It would certainly behoove the connections of these colts to enter in the third leg as well. If Animal Kingdom goes and Shackleford stays in the stable and Animal Kingdom wins, it makes it harder for Shackleford to make up ground in the division with restricted graded stakes opportunities drying up. The same example could be used in reverse as well. No one in the division has more than one grade one win to their name up to this point, every grade one counts twice as much now as far as division bragging rights. Passing up a chance to take one down is akin to folding a good hand in poker, why not take a shot?

1 comment:

lenny said...

You know why AK Lost?? Just watch the movie Seabiscut...If ever anything should have been done with AK for this big a race, it was told in that movie...