Hot List: Belmont Stakes recap

June, 12, 2013

Last weekend's races

The Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park

The 2013 Triple Crown came to an end on another surprising note as 13-1 shot Palace Malice took charge at the quarter pole and drew off in the stretch. He crossed the finish line 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Preakness winner Oxbow in a win that was convincing but hardly compelling. The final time of 2:30.70 was anything but electrifying and it didn't reflect well on the horses behind him that he ran a 27.58 seconds final quarter and no one was gaining on him in the stretch. After setting ludicrous fractions in the Derby while racing with blinkers for the first time, the hood came off in the Belmont and the bay colt was much more relaxed. Yet as much as he was the best horse on that June afternoon, an overall record that features only a maiden win before the Belmont raises some nagging questions about him. Is he a late bloomer who will continue to improve or did he merely capitalize on five weeks rest to beat tired horses? Oxbow pressed fast fractions of 23.11 and 46.66 seconds in the Belmont and it wasn't much of a surprise that he tired in his third race in five weeks. Yet the grit he displayed in holding on for second proved the Preakness was not a fluke, and with some rest he should be even more formidable at more manageable distances than a mile and a half. Orb came into the Belmont seeking redemption for a shocking fourth-place finish in the Preakness and ran only marginally better than he did at Pimlico. Though third, he was never a threat to Palace Malice and it's clear the Derby took something out of him. It will be interesting to see if some time off can help him revert to top form. No one else impressed in a race that was surprisingly contested on a fast track after a marathon deluge the day before. The track started out muddy and was upgraded to good and then fast as a mix of front-runners and closers won during the course of the 13-race card. With three separate winners, the 2013 Triple Crown did not establish a clear-cut division leader and with Palace Malice, Oxbow and Orb all targeting the Travers, it appears the Mid-Summer Derby at Saratoga will be the best source of clarity.

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Hot List Key

A List: A preferred horse to watch
B List: Secondary horse to watch
*C List: Went down 2 or more betting notches and finished 1st through 3rd
*D List: Went down 2 or more betting notches and finished 4th or worse
* minus-4 or more betting notches if 11-1 or more.

Do you have questions? Email Bob at

• Bob Ehalt grew up a few furlongs from Belmont Park and has followed horse racing as a fan, turf writer or owner since 1971.
• Has won three Associated Press Sports Editors awards and was the recipient of the '09 Breeders' Cup media award for outstanding social media.



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