Steve Haskin's Belmont Analysis: A New Hero on the Horizon

Steve Haskin's Belmont Analysis: A New Hero on the Horizon
Photo: Barbara D. Livingston
Haskin: Reverberate "...has all Darby Dan blood in his female family..."
Yes, it's time to look for a value horse again. It doesn't take a genius to figure out Afleet Alex and Giacomo are the class of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), and if both run their "A" race, they should finish one-two. But, this is the Belmont, and Andromeda's Hero and Reverberate look like two horses who will love the mile and a half distance.

Andromeda's Hero was my longshot pick in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but he just wasn't ready physically and mentally to handle such a grueling race. Yet, he still was beaten only 7 ½ lengths. He is a high-strung horse, and needs to be handled with kid gloves. The distance of the Belmont and the big, sweeping turns should help him relax. The one interesting factor about him is that in his last three starts – fifth in the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II), third in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and eighth in the Kentucky Derby – he blew by the winner galloping out. That could mean absolutely nothing or it could mean he just can't handle these horses competitively. But it also could mean that he is a colt who is crying out for more distance, and that is what I'd be banking on.

In short, based on that and an incredible pedigree, I will give him another chance to prove he can compete with this caliber of horses. By Fusaichi Pegasus  , his female family is inundated with class and stamina through granddam Equal Change, who was second, beaten less than three lengths by Ruffian, in the 1 ½-mile Coaching Club American Oaks. Fourth dam Equal Venture is the dam of Prove Out, conqueror of Secretariat in the 1 ½-mile Woodward Stakes and Riva Ridge in the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup. Andromeda's Hero's eight dam is a full-sister to Man o' War.

Now, whether this colt is talented enough to win the Belmont is another matter. But, he is showing the right signs, and turned in a bullet five-furlong work in 1:01 3/5 over the deep Oklahoma training track May 27, the fastest of 19 works at the distance. If you're looking for a price horse that has enough angles going for him, then Andromeda's Hero could be the right horse.

Another horse with a mile and a half pedigree to die for is Reverberate, a son of Belmont winner Thunder Gulch. This good-looking colt has all Darby Dan blood in his female family, tracing from the great producer Soaring. He has good tactical speed, a long, sweeping stride, and his trainer was the assistant trainer of Belmont winner Colonial Affair and jockey agent for Jose Santos when he piloted Lemon Drop Kid to a Belmont victory in 1999. His connections would rather not subject him to three races in 34 days, but that's not much different than what the Derby and Preakness winners attempt to do each year.

So, the initial bet here would be each horse to win and an exacta box, and then box them in the trifecta with Afleet Alex and Giacomo, or just one of them if you have a distinct preference.

Some other points of note on the Belmont field: The best-looking horse I've seen, based on coat and overall behavior is Southern Africa. His coat is resplendent and dappled out, and he is acting like a horse ready to run a big race. It's hard to get a gauge on him from his past performances and who he's been running against, but he ran big races last against Declan's Moon and Giacomo after coming here from England. He also has a distance-oriented pedigree, but, hey, you can't pick everyone.

Another horse worth looking at is Chekhov, who has a look of class about him, and will run a much improved race than his forth in the Peter Pan. That race was a total toss, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him hit the board. Watch out in the Travers (gr. I).

As for some of the others, Pinpoint is long, sleek colt with the look of a horse who should stay, but with his lack of racing experience he is another to watch for down the road, as is stablemate Indy Storm, a big, muscular colt who generates a good deal of power, and A.P. Arrow, a grand-looking son of A.P. Indy, who was bouncing along with his neck arched as he headed to the track Thursday morning. The colt he beat in his maiden score, Nolan's Cat, also has a bright future, and all four of these colts should be heard from down the road. I can't say much about Watchmon other than he was second to the Bobby Frankel-trained First Word, who is considered a horse to keep an eye on by his trainer.

But for now, it's all about Afleet Alex and Giacomo, with Andromeda's Hero and Reverberate the value horses.

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