Post-position draws, an everyday occurrence at race tracks across America, are typically conducted in the anonymity of a racing office. It is only for the major races that the participants gather to see where their horses will be located in the starting gate.
Posts can matter, especially, as we found out this year, in the Kentucky Derby when race favorite Lookin At Lucky was essentially eliminated by drawing the rail. If it wasn't obvious at the time, it was obvious when they ran the race.
Posts are not as relevant in the Belmont Stakes, which will be run for the 142nd time on Saturday. So there wasn't a lot of suspense yesterday morning when the owners and trainers gathered at Belmont Park to find out where their horses would start in the final leg of the Triple Crown.
The race is exactly one tour of Belmont Park's massive mile-and-a-half oval. The horses finish where they start and there is more than enough time for their jockeys to get into a favorable position.
This Belmont is most notable for not having either the Kentucky Derby winner (Super Saver) or Preakness winner (Lookin At Lucky). That has happened twice before this decade (2000, 2006) and the Belmont winners those years were not memorable.
Neither Commendable (2000) nor Jazil (2006) had won a stakes race before their Belmont wins. After the Belmont, neither horse won a race of any kind.
This Belmont group is not terribly distinguished, either. The 12 horses have been entered in a total of 35 graded stakes on the main track with just four combined wins.
But we do have the runner-up in the Derby (Ice Box) and the Preakness (First Dude) as well as the dominating winner of the Dwyer Stakes (Fly Down). There is a real chance that the Belmont winner could turn out to be a serious threat to Super Saver or Lookin At Lucky for 3-year-old champion.
Ice Box and Fly Down are both trained by Nick Zito. Ice Box is the 3-1 morning-line favorite, followed by First Dude (7-2) and Fly Down (9-2).
There will be no Triple Crown on the line like 2004 (Smarty Jones) and 2008 (Big Brown). There will be no rematch of the Derby and Preakness winners like in 2005 (Giacomo, Afleet Alex). In fact, there is not a single horse in this Belmont that ran in both the Derby and Preakness.
But there will be wagering and a big crowd and three other Grade I races on what is annually one of the best non-Breeders' Cup racing cards of the year. And, by early evening, another horse will have won racing's version of the marathon. It just might take a little while longer this year than some other years.
142nd running, Saturday, Belmont Park, Post Time: 6:32. One and miles. 3-year-olds. All carry 126 pounds.
Purse: $1,000,000 (1st, $600,000; 2nd, $200,000; 3rd, $110,000; 4th, $60,000; 5th, $30,000).
1 Dave in Dixie, jockey Calvin Borel, trainer John Sadler, odds: 20-1
2 Spangled Star, jockey Garrett Gomez, trainer Rick Dutrow, odds: 30-1
3 Uptowncharlybrown, jockey Rajiv Maragh, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, odds: 10-1
4 Make Music for Me, jockey Joel Rosario, trainer Alexis Barba, odds: 10-1
5 Fly Down, jockey John Velazquez, trainer Nick Zito, odds: 9-2
6 Ice Box, jockey Jose Lezcano, trainer Nick Zito, odds: 3-1
7 Drosselmeyer, jockey Mike Smith, trainer Bill Mott, odds: 12-1
8 Game On Dude, jockey Martin Garcia, trainer Bob Baffert, odds: 10-1
9 Stately Victor, jockey Alan Garcia, trainer Mike Maker, odds: 15-1
10 Stay Put, jockey Jamie Theriot, trainer Steve Margolis, odds: 20-1
11 First Dude, jockey Ramon Dominguez, trainer Dale Romans, odds: 7-2