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Handicapper's Analysis Of Betting Strategies For This Year's Final Triple Crown

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By Author: Lee Lane-Edgar
Total Articles: 365
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Now that the post positions have been drawn, let’s take a look at how the race might unfold. It is no secret that Shackleford loves to go to the front, and his drawing the outside 12 post is not the most favorable draw for him. He will have to expend extra energy to make it over to the 1 or 2 path in the first furlong or so.

That being said, he does appear to be the lone speed here. There really are not any other speed oriented horses in this race. There are some stalkers to be sure, but no go to the front type horses like Flashpoint in the Preakness who dueled with Shackleford all the way down the backstretch.

Can he steal the race? Ordinarily I would say he could steal it from this field, were the distance just a little shorter, say even 1 ¼ miles. I expect him to have the lead turning into the stretch, but sometime in mid-stretch his stamina will give out and he will start to give way, albeit grudgingly.

Expect Nehro from post 6 and Mucho Macho Man from post 10 to track him in second or third.

Stay Thirsty and Ruler on Ice who drew posts 2 and 3, respectively, will drop back a bit off the ...
... pace, perhaps about 5 lengths, while Santiva who drew post 4, will move up a little closer, 2-3 lengths off Shackleford and to the inside of Nehro and Mucho Macho Man.

Brilliant Speed drew post 5 and he will drop back early securing a good running position, probably somewhere in the vicinity of Ruler on Ice.
Monzon fell far back in the Peter Pan, in which he recently finished sixth, but in his prior race, the Sam Davis, he lay much closer, so he may be only a few off the pace, or he could drop back to as much as 10 lengths off the leader.

Prime Cut drew post 8, to the inside of Animal Kingdom, and you can expect him to be forwardly placed, 2-3 lengths off the leader, with Mucho Macho Man who drew post 10 either running evenly or just stalking him.

Animal Kingdom drew post 9 which is probably a good position to be in, as he will drop 5-7 lengths off the pace and let Prime Cut to his inside, and Mucho Macho Man to his outside go on with it, while he secures a good position, though perhaps he will go 3 wide around the turns.

Isn’t He Perfect drew post 10 and is a stalker to mid pack type horse, so he may run past Animal Kingdom and secure a closer position, maybe 4 lengths off the pace.

Many Belmont analysts over the years have noted that it is not a good idea to drop your horse too far back early, because you don’t want to have to expend too much energy catching up to the field – energy which the horse will need for the stretch drive. Horses that succeed in winning the Belmont generally lay anywhere from a stalking position to less than 7 or 8 lengths off the pace.

A.P. Indy stalked about a length off the Belmont pace in 1992, Victory Gallop was no more than 7 ½ lengths behind at any point in the 1998 Belmont (though he had fallen 16 lengths behind in the Derby at one point), Thunder Gulch stayed within a ½ length of the leader when he took it in 1995. Real Quiet in 1997 and Point Given in 2001 were never farther than a length behind the leader, and in 2005, Afleet Alex was never farther than six lengths off the pace.

It would seem then, that any jockey who looks to have a good shot at winning the race would be well advised to not let his horse drop too far out of it. Animal Kingdom cannot afford to fall 15 lengths off the lead as he did in the Preakness. If he can stay within 7 of the leader, I think he will be in good position to win the race.

Prediction: Animal Kingdom for the win. Mucho Macho Man, Master of Hound, or Brilliant Speed for the minor awards.

Now that you have my predictions, let's look at some betting strategies. Animal Kingdom will be the favorite. Because of that, to really get a strong return on our investment, we probably want to key him both on top and underneath in the exactas (exotic bets).

Master of Hounds is 10:1 morning line, but will probably be bet down to 6 or 7 to 1. He is the horse that I'm keying in my bets. With Master of Hounds winning and any of my other picks coming in second, the exacta should pay a solid price. Remember, when you're betting, it's all about ROI.

If you want to really try to hit it out of the park, try to find some additional longshots that might sneak in for third. Anything over 15:1 can add value to the trifecta.

Good luck and hopefully you can cash a winning ticket. Enjoy the final leg of the 2011 Triple Crown!

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