ELMONT, N.Y. — What an afternoon we have in store in New York this Saturday, as no fewer than 10 stakes races take place on this day alone including eight Grade One events.
The highlight, naturally, is the Belmont Stakes. The third leg of the coveted Triple Crown of horse racing, the Belmont is a stamina-sapping one-and-a-half miles around Big Sandy, a notoriously tough track and with precious few runners in this year’s 10-strong field bred for that job, Bourbon War becomes all the more attractive in the betting.
Morning line odds of 12/1 are very appealing about Mark Hennig’s colt and in fact that’s part of the reason for betting him. The Belmont, by luck or by design, has a habit of throwing up winners at big odds and at these prices selecting the only contender in the field with strong stamina in the family can be done blind.
That said, a closer look at his profile rather than a quick glance reveals form reasons for betting him too.
Heading into Kentucky for the Derby, the Florida form was looking strongest of all this year and that is something Bourbon War is representing. Given his slightly quirky style and penchant for dropping way back, he was never in with a realistic chance of winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes in early March yet he ran on admirably to finish second that day.
He hit the line only ¾ of a length behind Code Of Honor who had the run of the race, and when you bear in mind that horse went on to finish second in the Kentucky Derby behind Country House you can appreciate how strong the form line is.
The form is proven to be rock solid too when you consider that Code Of Honor, in between the Fountain of Youth and the Derby, also finished a 6-length third in the Florida Derby behind what proved to be the impressive ‘first past the post’ in Louisville in the shape of Maximum Security.
Bourbon War himself was fourth that day at Gulfstream, this time under a length behind Code Of Honor, when once again being held right at the rear of the field and never being in with a chance of winning, despite running on strongly towards the end.
All of these things point to a horse ready to show his true worth over this mile-and-a-half distance, especially given the make-up of this track which is tough for all, and they are backed up in no uncertain terms by Bourbon War’s family tree.
Mike Smith’s mount is by Tapit, a 1¼ mile winner in a short career and a champion stallion to boot. His dam is by Artie Schiller who again gets plenty of mile-and-a-quarter horses but the real sustainability and resilience comes from Tapit’s immediate lineage.
Tapit is by Pulpit, whose progeny win over an average of almost a mile-and-a-half which is very unusual for North American racing, and is out of an Unbridled mare who boasts similar stamina figures with his offspring.
Bourbon War has to make a quick comeback from what was admittedly a poor run in the Preakness Stakes last time out but given the distance, how the race panned out and taking a look at the winner War Of Will who re-opposes here, it seems that was definitely a race that supported the speed angle and this will be very different.
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