Triple Crown contender Big Brown was installed the 2-5 morning line favorite and drew the rail in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The post position draw took place in the Garden Terrace on the fourth floor clubhouse of Belmont Park.
The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner will face a field of nine, including surprise entrant Guadalcanal, who has yet to win a race and drew the two position at odds of 50-1.
After winning the Florida Derby (gr. I) from post 12, the Kentucky Derby from post 20 and the Preakness from post 6, Big Brown moves to the rail for the Belmont.
“I just can’t see a post getting him beat,” said trainer Rick Dutrow. “We’ll take it and go with it.
“I can’t imagine anything could be any better with the horse. He was awful rough this morning around the barn just walking. I’ve never seen him like that. So he knows something’s coming; he knows it’s soon; I just couldn’t be happier with the horse.”
Since 1905, post position 1 has produced the most winners of the Belmont Stakes.
Yamamoto Hidetoshi’s Casino Drive was made the 7-2 second choice. The Peter Pan winner will break from post five under Edgar Prado. Prado has won the Belmont twice, both times ending Triple Crown bids. He rode Sarava to victory in 2002 while War Emblem broke poorly and finished unplaced, and in 2004, Prado was aboard Birdstone , who ran down Smarty Jones inside the sixteenth pole.
I like the post; it doesn’t matter to him,” said Nabutaka Tada, Casino Drive’s racing manager. “He was bred to win the Belmont Stakes.”
Casino Drive, a son of first-crop sire Mineshaft , is out of Better Than Honour, the dam of the last two Belmont winners Jazil and Rags to Riches.
Following a brief interview with the New York Racing Association’s Jan Rushton, Tata said, “Thank you, babe,” in reference Dutrow.
Casino Drive will be making just his third start and second in this country. In his United States debut, he won the May 10 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II). Third that day was Ready’s Echo, who will break from post nine in the Belmont.
“We’re not too concerned about the post position because he’s going to come from out it,” said Brian Sullivan, an assistant trainer for Todd Pletcher. “We’re hoping the pace up front won’t be too quick so we’ll be 20 out of it.
“He’s an improving horse,” Sullivan said. “He’s trained well in the last three weeks. We were between this race and one in Virginia (Virginia Derby) and we figured we had a chance to run in the Belmont, so we’re going to go for it.”
The third choice on the morning line is Denis of Cork, the third-place finisher in the May 3 Kentucky Derby. Trainer David Carroll was on hand to represent William K. Warren. Denis of Cork drew post four.
“We were hoping to be inside,” Carroll said. “Going a mile and a half, you want to save as much ground as you can.”
When asked about catching Big Brown, who finished 8 ¼ lengths ahead of him in Louisville, Carroll said “We’re looking for any way we can beat him. Robbie should be able to keep a close eye on (jockey) Kent (Desormeaux) and Casino Drive. He should be in a great position.
“Big Brown is absolutely awesome. Seeing him on television is one thing, seeing him in person and seeing him before the Derby was unbelievable. But we’re here to win it and we’ll give it our best shot.”
Carroll has plenty of Belmont experience. As an assistant for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, Carroll was the exercise rider for 1989 Belmont winner Easy Goer. As well, his brother was an assistant for trainer Dermot Weld, who won the Belmont the following year with Irish shipper Go and Go.
140th Belmont Stakes (gr. I), June 7
|1||Big Brown||K. Desormeaux||R. Dutrow, Jr.||2-5|
|2||Guadalcanal||J. Castellano||F. Seitz||50-1|
|3||Macho Again||G. Gomez||D. Stewart||20-1|
|4||Denis of Cork||R. Albarado||D. Carroll||12-1|
|5||Casino Drive||E. Prado||K. Fujisawa||7-2|
|6||Da’ Tara||A. Garcia||N. Zito||30-1|
|7||Tale of Ekati||E. Coa||B. Tagg||20-1|
|8||Anak Nakal||J. Leparoux||N. Zito||30-1|
|9||Ready’s Echo||J. Velazquez||T. Pletcher||30-1|
|10||Icabad Crane||Jeremy Rose||G. Motion||20-1|