Haskin's Belmont Analysis: But There's Plenty Left to Choose From

OK, so you don't like Point Given, who by the way handled himself very well Thursday morning on his first excursion around Belmont Park, except for some typical gawking during his gallop.

That's fine, as there is plenty to choose from. As everyone knows, anything can happen in a horserace, especially one going a mile and a half, and if Point Given doesn't run his race for any one of several reasons, then you've got a bonanza of potential overlays. And that's where the value lies.

We haven't seen much of the late shippers – Point Given, Dollar Bill, Buckle Down Ben, and Dr. Greenfield -- but what little we have seen so far, in addition to what we've seen from the remainder of the horses, any one of them can win this race. In fact, one of the horses who stood out is the possible longest shot in the field, Buckle Down Ben, who has the look of a stayer and whose coat is bursting with dapples.

We really love the way A P Valentine is coming into the race, judging from the ease and professionalism of his workout Tuesday. This is the end of an unusual Triple Crown trail for the son of A.P. Indy, and if he's going to live up to the high expectations of his connections, this will be the time – in front of his hometown fans over a track over which he is undefeated, including a victory over Point Given. This morning he was very professional in his gallop, moving smoothly with his neck arched. Then he apparently spotted some cameras positioned near the finish line and lost concentration, throwing his head up, as he did before the Preakness. Only this wasn't nearly as bad as at Pimlico.

With his stamina-oriented pedigree, which also possesses tons of class, and the way he's coming up to the race, A P Valentine should be sitting on a big effort.

Looking for a price, we like the way Invisible Ink is coming up to the Belmont, and the fact that he's a grinder, who should continue to build momentum as the race progresses. His coat, as it did before the Derby, looks resplendent, his eye is bright, and he's showing enough aggressive behavior on the track and at the barn to indicate he should be a factor. We have no idea how far his stablemate Balto Star wants to go, but he also looks great, and you can see his veins bulging as he grazes in the afternoon.

From a gallop standpoint, the mad galloper of Churchill Downs, Thunder Blitz, has been motoring much the same way at Belmont, on both the main and training tracks. He's made great strides physically since the Derby, and he too looks to be sitting on a huge effort.

We'll confuse you even more by saying that English import Dr Greenfield made an excellent impression after arriving Wednesday at 5:30. He was really on the muscle following his transatlantic flight and stay in quarantine, and was bucking and kicking while walking the shed. After a good night's sleep, he was bright-eyed and raring to go Thursday morning, and his coat obviously looked better. The son of Dr Devious is a strong, well-made colt, with a beautiful head, and he has a good deal of intelligence about him.

If you're having a hard time making up your mind who you like, you might as well not strain your brain any longer. Just scrap everyone else and take a shot on the unknown factor. Dr Greenfield certainly has the pedigree to run all day, and his form was more than flattered when Grandera, whom he defeated in the Dee Stakes, came back and finished an unlucky third, beaten a half and a head, in the French Derby. And you can never go wrong with a Team Valor purchase. They always seem to come up with a runner from the most obscure places.

And we haven't even mentioned Monarchos and Dollar Bill. As for the Derby winner, John Ward and Yvonne Azeff certainly have him crawling out of skin. He's been aggressive just galloping the wrong way, and has been manhandling poor old Mouse, the pony, coming off the track. As we said in our other report, it's just a question of style, and whether he can blow away horses without being pushed too hard to do it. Dollar Bill will have his usual legion of supporters, and we just don't know what this horse is capable of with a clean trip. But if he's going to be bet down like he was in the Derby and Preakness, then you'll have to decide just how much it's worth to find out.

Final analysis

As we said, we feel Point Given will be heavily bet. There are several questions surrounding him, and there's no way of knowing if these questions, such as soundness and his goofing off, are meaningless or will have a say in the outcome. We're not going to tell you he's a good bet, but we will say that all logic points to him. And it could in a big way.

But just watch that tote board. You can always load up on A P Valentine, and you should get attractive win prices on Invisible Ink, Thunder Blitz, and Dr Greenfield. All three are definitely worth a bet, especially Dr Greenfield, as you just don't know if there's a major star there waiting to explode on the scene.

Related story: Haskin's Belmont Report: Why Point Given Should Dominate

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