Big Brown will be surrounded by a no-hope mystery horse and the rail in Saturday's Belmont Stakes. That was the deal after yesterday morning's post draw at Belmont Park when the undefeated Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner drew post 1.
In a mile-and-a-half race, there is certainly adequate time for the horses to sort themselves out, especially in a race with so little early speed. That Peter Pan Stakes winner Casino Drive drew post 5 gives his rider, Edgar Prado, the option of staying outside of Big Brown and Kent Desormeaux.
When post positions 1, 3 and 5 were left, Belmont Park announcer Tom Durkin, conducting the draw, asked Big Brown's trainer, Rick Dutrow, which of those posts he would most like. He said post 5, which immediately went to Casino Drive.
If Desormeaux wants, Big Brown is plenty fast enough to clear the field by the first turn and control the pace from the top. Whether Desormeaux will choose to do that is unclear.
Ten horses were entered, including a maiden named Guadalcanal that nobody, including the Belmont racing office, expected to be in the race. Like the vast majority of the horses in the race, Guadalcanal, winless in five races and starting in post 2, has zero early speed. In the colt's last start, he was second by a nose in a mile-and-a-half grass race at Churchill Downs. Which apparently inspired his connections to enter the colt in the Belmont.
There are only two horses in the race that have hit triple digits on the Beyer figure scale, a strong winning indicator at the top levels of the sport. Casino Drive, with one start in Japan and one in the United States, hit the number in the Peter Pan. Big Brown has raced four times on dirt. The colt, going for the first Triple Crown in 30 years, has hit it every time.
140th Running/Belmont Park, Saturday, 6:25 p.m. (ABC). 1 miles. All carry 126 pounds. Purse: $1,000,000 (1st, $600,000; 2nd, $200,000; 3rd, $110,000; 4th, $60,000; 5th, $30,000).
1. Big Brown, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., jockey Kent Desormeaux, odds: 2-5
2. Guadalcanal, trainer Fred Seitz, jockey Javier Castellano, odds: 50-1
3. Macho Again, trainer Dallas Stewart, jockey Garrett Gomez, odds: 20-1
4. Denis of Cork, trainer David Carroll, jockey Robby Albarado, odds: 12-1
5. Casino Drive, trainer Kazuo Fujisawa, jockey Edgar Prado, odds: 7-2
6. Da' Tara, trainer Nick Zito, jockey Alan Garcia, odds: 30-1
7. Tale of Ekati, trainer Barclay Tagg, jockey Eibar Coa, odds: 20-1
8. Anak Nakal, trainer Nick Zito, jockey Julien Leparoux, odds: 30-1
9. Ready's Echo, trainer Todd Pletcher, jockey John Velzquez, odds: 30-1