Belmont Preview: Afleet Alex vs. Giacomo vs. the Rest of Them

With less than a week until the 137th Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the mile and a half race looks like this: Preakness (gr. I) winner Afleet Alex, Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo, and the rest of them.

The rest of them consists of nine horses – a grade III winner at Lone Star Park, a listed winner at Tampa Bay Downs, a listed winner at Pimlico, a grade II-placed horse, an allowance winner, three maiden winners, and a maiden.

Now comes the question: Can any of these seemingly outclassed horses upset the Derby and Preakness winners? Well, from the results of recent Belmonts, anything is possible. Some people believe only the distance can stop Afleet Alex, whose 4 1/2-length margin of victory in the Preakness likely would have been at least double that had he not almost fallen at the top of the stretch after clipping the heels of Scrappy T. His remarkable recovery will be talked about for many years to come. Alex was blowing by horses so rapidly at that point, it looked as if he were the only one not moving in slow motion.

The son of Northern Afleet  no doubt will be a solid favorite in the Belmont Stakes, followed by Giacomo, who finished third in the Preakness after encountering some minor traffic problems. So, each colt goes into the Belmont with a victory and a third in the Triple Crown.

Afleet Alex was the first Belmont shipper to arrive on the grounds, vanning up from Baltimore on Saturday, June 4. Giacomo was scheduled to arrive from California on Wednesday, June 8.

As for the others, the only graded stakes winner among them is Southern Africa, winner of the grade III Lone Star Derby. The two listed winners – Sam F. Davis winner Andromeda's Hero and Sir Barton winner Pinpoint – are trained by Nick Zito, who also will saddle allowance winner Indy Storm. This will give Zito 11 starters in this year's Triple Crown, from seven individual horses, including the Derby favorite, Bellamy Road. He will be looking for his first in-the-money performance, with a fourth by Sun King in the Preakness his best finish.

Of these, Andromeda's Hero looks to have the best chance for the upset. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus  has a stamina- and class-laden female family, and in his last three races – a fifth in the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II), a third in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and an eighth in the Kentucky Derby – he galloped out past the winner after the finish. He has a bullet breeze over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga and looks to be sitting on a big race.

Another solid upset possibility is Reverberate, runner-up in the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II), run in lightning-fast time. The son of Thunder Gulch also has a dynamite female family, and if he can curtail his early speed, he also has a good shot to knock off the favorites.

The other prospective starters are Chekhov, A.P. Arrow, Watchmon, and Nolan's Cat. Of these, Chekhov, the beaten favorite in the Peter Pan, finishing a well-beaten fourth, should improve off that race.

But they all have Afleet Alex to beat, and if he runs anything even resembling the race he ran at Pimlico, everyone else will be running for second.