Recap of the Belmont Stakes Card (2016)

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track announcer with binoculars

Ed Meyer is the track announcer at Belterra

 by Ed Meyer, special for AGameofSkill.com visitors

The Triple Crown trail officially ended with the running of the 148th Belmont Stakes. Many watched these runners since their two-year-old seasons and you may find yourself getting a little sentimental about this chapter of their racing career ending.  Before you start putting away your notes and stats, we may have just started the real handicapping. We have late summer racing and, of course, the road to the Breeders’ Cup.   So start up your notes and watch-lists again as the best is yet to come.  Some of these runners will have serious Breeders Cup implications.

The (G-1) Acorn Stakes – One mile on the dirt

There was a solid group of six who went to post and the big chalk was the incredible Cathryn Sophia. All of these gals glimmer in their own right, but here is one you’ll want to keep on your watch list for future racing.

Go Maggie Go  has done very little wrong and comes to the races from the Dale Romans bran. This daughter of Ghostzapper had her worst finish in her brief career (4th) and I’m looking forward to her races down the road. She has two 1 1/8 races (9 furlongs) under her belt and looks to be finding herself with every race. She responded well to the rider’s commands and looks like this race is just a stepping stone for bigger things to come.

The (G-1) Ogden Phipps Stakes – 1 1/16 on the dirt

Seven fillies and mares took to the track led by Curalina who was the public favorite this day.

Sheer Drama doesn’t have to take her track with her. She is consistent and shows tactical ability at all distances. She lunged at the start this day and was wide before trying to uncork a bid.   This race is a “toss out” and handicapper’s beware. This daughter of Burning Roma is going to blossom into a real monster with a little racing luck.

The (G-1) Just a Game Stakes – One mile on the turf

A field of thirteen fillies and mares assembled and with a field this size you may have to go back and watch the replay three or four more times to get the correct read. Here are a couple of gals who will should be on the radar screen for handicappers down the line.

Faufiler – California jock Drayden Van Dyke was aboard for Graham Motion, and both rider and trainer are well versed on the greensward. This daughter of Galileo is a stone cold closer. As long as there’s a solid pace she’ll come rolling from the clouds. In time I think we’ll see her a few strides closer to the pace setters, and that will make double dangerous to pick off runners late in the lane. She mainly has traveled a flat mile, but her breeding suggests she may enjoy added ground. After shipping across the pond from France, she appears to be getting better with every start.

Recepta has a late punch that could knock down the champ at any oval. John Velasquez was in the irons this day, and she did very little wrong except come up a bit short nearing the wire. She’s well traveled and merits respect anywhere she’ll run. Her best efforts may range from one mile to 1 1/8 on the turf.  Things look very bright for the future.

The (G-1) Metropolitan Handicap – One mile on the dirt

Just like a well-aged wine I think Frosted will only improve with time. The time figures from every publication are off the charts and he dismissed the “Dubai-Jinx” after getting beat at Meydan and putting on one of the best shows of his career. His late summer-fall campaign will be one to behold if all goes well, and right about when the Breeders’ Cup frenzy is at a fever pitch this will be one of the runners we’ll all be talking about.

The  (G-1) Manhattan Stakes – 1 1/4 on the inner turf

Nine runners went to post and the public made Flintshire from the Chad Brown barn the public choice at the windows.

Flintshire (GB) – This world traveler from the Chad Brown barn had the services of one of the best turf riders in the game with Javier Castellano.  His passport is stamped in Hong Kong, France, Dubai, and the United States. He missed by a 1/4 length in the 2014 edition of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and this son of Dansili looked like he has yet to find his best gear.  One thing is for certain, every time he takes to the track he will be one of the tough guys to contend with, and if this race is any indication I can’t wait until we see him back on the weeds.

The (G-1) Belmont Stakes – 1 1/2 – The Test of Champions

As the media missed an opportunity to see Nyquist return for some payback from his Preakness loss, and the rumors swirled around Kent Desormeaux for personal problems. The fans we’re treated to a full field of thirteen runners and, in the end,  one incredible finish for the Triple Crown.

Destin – This son of Giant’s Causeway has the look of maturing colt at the right time. Add in some well deserved rest and a plan for the later part of the year and we’ll have one tough cookie going to post.  Take nothing away from the fast closing effort of the winner Creator who received a well timed ride from the ultra-talented Irad Ortiz Jr.  Looking ahead, I see a runner with tactical ability who will be feared as a front end presence or stalking just off the hot pace. He should probably find his best races in 1 1/16 – 1 1/8 events. His tactical style fits like a glove and this kind of ability plays well on any oval. By the time Breeders’ Cup is in full view, he’ll be one of the major players on everyone’s tickets.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 12-time qualifier to the National Handicapping Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He recently won a $24,000 package into the 2016 Kentucky Derby Betting Championship. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is also a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program. He is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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