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Belmont Stakes Analysis

When: Tomorrow. Post time: 6:25 p.m.


Tomorrow. Post time: 6:25 p.m.

Where: Belmont Park, Elmont, N.Y.

TV: 6ABC, 5-7 p.m. Distance: 11/2 miles.

Total purse: $1 million. Winner's share: $600,000.

Weather forecast: Humid, 85 degrees, with 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms.

The 10-horse field: Listed in order of preference

No. Horse Jockey Trainer ML

1. Big Brown Kent Desormeaux Rick Dutrow, Jr. 2-5

Since few of us hold the job of trainer, blacksmith, or veterinarian it would be best if we would avoid guessing how much this colt's foot ailment will affect his chances of becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner. Better to note that he has won all five of his races by a combined 39 lengths, while never being tested. He cruised to victory under wraps in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness after showing the kind of acceleration reminiscent of the great horses of the past few decades. While 10 consecutive Derby-Preakness winners have failed in the Belmont, this colt showed no signs of tiring in the stretch and appears capable of a big effort regardless of distance. He will offer no bargain at the windows but as the old expression suggests, "Better short price than long face."

5. Casino Drive Edgar Prado Kazuo Fujisawa 7-2

Showed supreme ability in the Peter Pan Stakes over the Belmont surface after capturing his debut by 111/2 lengths in Japan. He is the half-brother to the last two Belmont Stakes winners, Rags to Riches and Jazil, so the distance should be in his favor. His trainer has been the dominating conditioner in his native country for years and this race was targeted before this colt's career began. Edgar Prado has ridden upset winners Sarava (2002) and Birdstone (2004) and is best jockey in the business. This is the most formidable opponent Big Brown has yet to face.

7. Tale of Ekati Eibar Coa Barclay Tagg 20-1

He was no match for Big Brown in the Derby after running down juvenile champ War Pass in the Wood Memorial. Barclay Tagg won the first two legs of the Triple Crown with Funny Cide in 2003 but finished third behind Empire Maker in this event on a sloppy track. A gelding, Funny Cide currently works as the Tagg stable pony. This stretch-runner won both of his starts at Belmont as a 2-year-old and Coa and Tagg are sizzling at the current Belmont meet, atop their respective standings.

3. Macho Again Garrett Gomez Dallas Stewart 20-1

After rallying late to complete the exacta in the Preakness, this improving stretch-runner has made a rider change from Julien Leparoux to Garrett Gomez. In last year's Belmont, Gomez replaced Mario Pino aboard Hard Spun with dismal results. Owned by Mt. Laurel's West Point Thoroughbreds, this colt could sneak into the superfecta but seems unlikely to find the winner's circle.

4. Denis of Cork Robby Albarado David Carroll 12-1

Trailed early in 20th position in the Derby before rallying late to finish a remote third. While never a threat the effort was encouraging considering his dull try as the even-money favorite in the Illinois Derby when previously undefeated. Albarado was aboard runner-up Curlin in last year's Belmont.

10. Icabad Crane Jeremy Rose Graham Motion 20-1

He closed a big gap to finish third in the Preakness and has fired in all five of his career outings. Trained at Fair Hill in Maryland, he should handle the distance but will need to progress significantly if he is to post an upset. Jeremy Rose was aboard Afleet Alex when the colt rolled to an easy victory in the 2005 Belmont.

9. Ready's Echo John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 30-1

With only a maiden victory on his resume and a sound thumping by Casino Drive in the Peter Pan, this confirmed stretch-runner will need to excel at the marathon distance to deserve a chance. While Pletcher has earned little success in Triple Crown races, his victory with the filly Rags to Riches in last year's Belmont was exceptional.

6. Da' Tara Alan Garcia Nick Zito 30-1

Set the pace and ran with determination in the stretch when the runner-up in the Barbaro Stakes on the Preakness undercard. However he is back in the big leagues again and was trounced by Big Brown in the Florida Derby in March.

8. Anak Nakal Julien Leparoux Nick Zito 30-1

Has yet to get close this season in four starts after an encouraging campaign as a juvenile. He finished the seventh of 20 in Louisville and was never in the hunt. His sire, Victory Gallop, denied Real Quiet the Triple Crown in a photo finish in 1998.

2. Guadalcanal Javier Castellano Fred Seitz 50-1

The good news is that he is the only member of the field to compete at this 11/2-mile distance and was beaten only a nose in the process. The bad news is that this colt is winless in five attempts and his loss at this yardage was in a turf race. Stranger results have occurred but I can't remember them.