The best 3-year-old horses on dirt have finished competing in the 2019 Triple Crown. The $1 million dollar Belmont Derby Invitational on Saturday kicks off a new series for 3-year-olds called the Turf Trinity, with the newly-created $1 million dollar Saratoga Derby and Jockey Club Derby completing the circuit in the upcoming months.
As with the Kentucky Derby, the difficulty in the Belmont Derby is in deciding which horses will handle the 1 1/4-mile distance, and then trying to separate the horses into their proper class. All of these entrants are Stakes horses, but this is a upper echelon Grade 1 with several very talented horses.
The Belmont Derby is Race 9 on the card, with a scheduled Post Time set for 5:44 p.m. Eastern Time. Here then is a look at the field with Morning Line odds.
1. MOON COLONY (ML 15-1) There are some class issues regarding this son of UNCLE MO. Most recently he Won the Penn Mile (G2), yet two starts ago he finished a flat 5th by two lengths in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes.
2. STANDARD DEVIATION (ML 15-1) Always figured to be a turf horse, he made his career debut in an off-the-turf race at Saratoga. After four more dirt starts, he finally competed on turf in the Tale of the Cat at Monmouth last month and Won with a wide, sweeping move. He beat a weak field over there. This is a major step up in class.
3. SEISMIC WAVE (ML 5-1) Ran a strong race in the Pennine Ridge (G3), rallying behind DEMARCHELIER, finishing 2nd by a neck with a strong late move.
4. ENGLISH BEE (ML 30-1) He did win the one-mile J.W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico, but… he received a perfect trip sitting in the pocket and tipping out in the stretch, and he ran down a distance-challenge pacesetter in REAL NEWS. In his two attempts to stretch out at 1 1/16 miles, he lost ground late.
5. PLUS QUE PARFAIT (ML 20-1) He debuted on turf last summer, then made all seven subsequent starts on dirt with varying success. That first turf race was only so-so. He now needs to prove himself on turf against more classy horses.
6. HENLEY’S JOY (ML 12-1) He proved no match for DEMARCHELIER in the Pennine Ridge Stakes as well as no match for DIGITAL AGE in the American Turf Stakes (G2). So why are his chances better here?
7. MASTER FENCER (ML 12-1) He brings a little star status to this event, which will unfortunately lower his betting Value. He did compete in two Maiden turf races in Japan, finishing 2nd and 4th respectively. In his two American starts, he also ran like a typical turf horse with his quick late burst. But he came up short each time, as will probably happen here.
8. SOCIAL PARANOIA (ML 8-1) While he only lost by 1 ¼ lengths in the Pennine Ridge Stakes, both DEMARCHELIER and SEISMIC WAVE were levels above him.
9. CAPE OF GOOD HOPE (10-1) This European invader ran okay in the Prix du Jockey Club (G1), finishing 4th. Then he clunked home a distant 10th in the Hampton Court Stakes (G3) at Royal Ascot. A Euro shipper in bad form can sometimes turn it around when debuting in North America.
10. SPINOFF (ML 15-1) He hung on for 6th in the Belmont Stakes after displaying some speed, but it is still questionable if he wants to run longer distances.
11. BLENHEIM PALACE (ML 30-1) Two starts ago, he finished a good second in the Derby Trial (G3) against some decent European horses in BROOME and SOVEREIGN. But then he was up the track in the Prix du Jockey Club, running a dismal 14th by 28 ½ lengths.
12. DEMARCHELIER (ML 6-1) In the local Pennine Ridge Stakes, this colt ran as the other Chad Brown starter. Bettors let him go at 5-1, while his stablemate VALUE PROPOSITION ran at 3-1. DEMARCHELIER proved them wrong, Winning with a strong move going wide. Given he Won at nine furlongs and showed no signs of stalling, 1 ¼ miles here will be fine.
13. DIGITAL AGE (ML 9-2) Undefeated, he comes into this race 3 for 3, his latest Win being the American Turf Stakes on Derby Day. The distance seems the only question here.
14. ROCKEMPEROR (ML 8-1) After showing some early speed, he finished a flat 6th in the Prix de Jockey Club (G1), losing by eight lengths in the end. He now comes to North America for the rest of his career and enters the Chad Brown barn. Perhaps that turns him around.
Summary: The Daily Racing Blog believes DEMARCHELIER looks like the horse to beat here. With the large field, the odds don’t figure to go too low, especially with MASTER FENCER, two Aiden O’Brien shippers and three other Chad Brown starters presently in the field.
As a closer, #12 still needs to work out a good trip as traffic problems are almost a given in a 14-horse field. But if we can catch him at 3-1 or higher, it is worth the risk to gain the Value.
Our top long-shots are CAPE OF GOOD HOPE and MOON COLONY.
So our play will be: A Trifecta Key using the #12 on top of the 1-3-7-9-13-14. An Exacta Box with #1-3-9-12-13, and Win bets on #1-9-10-14.
Have fun and best of luck no matter how you play it.