The 143rd Belmont Stakes was run on Saturday afternoon over a sloppy track at Belmont Park. The weatherman certainly didn't cooperate, unless you were the connections of the top two finishers. In fact, the owner of Stay Thirsty, the runner-up, Mike Repole said that the conditions were perfect for his horse in a pre-race interview and he was very nearly right. They just happened to be more perfect for Ruler On Ice, who won at 24-1. Ruler On Ice had proven in the past that he could handle a sloppy racetrack and he proved it again on Saturday.
It is, however, a good thing that Ruler On Ice was sitting right behind Preakness winner, Shackleford, who set the early pace because if you watched the entire card from Belmont Park on Saturday, then you know that speed was the buzzword for Belmont Day. If you got to the front, you had an awesome chance of going all the way. Justin Phillip went to the front in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens and never looked back. Trappe Shot enjoyed just about the same trip Ruler On Ice did (sitting right behind the leader) and he won for fun in the Grade 2 True North Handicap. It even was the case on the turf as C.S. Silk went all the way in front in the Grade 1 Just A Game Stakes and Mission Approved led start to finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap.
Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, showed just what a fine animal he actually is in this or any other kingdom. Animal Kingdom had a horrific start to the race, getting squeezed badly and almost unseating John Velazquez after Isn't He Perfect moved inward right after the start and affected Mucho Macho Man, who in turn affected Animal Kingdom. The Derby winner was really never in the race, but exuded class when he eventually did start to move up on the outside. He made all the way up to fourth in the stretch before eventually winding up sixth.
To be completely honest with you, I thought I was going to be writing a slightly different recap of the Belmont Stakes after Brilliant Speed (my top pick) started rolling off the far turn. When they entered the stretch, it looked like he was going to blow by everyone and win by a significant margin. However, right about the time I started to think about how brilliant I was for picking him, Brilliant Speed flattened out and ended up running third. Stay Thirsty ran a great race (as tipped on this blog by Martha Claussen) and narrowly missed getting Mike Repole that Triple Crown winner he seemed destined to have this year before Uncle Mo took ill.
In the aftermath, Ruler On Ice's trainer, Kelly Breen, said there is no definite plan for the immediate future, although the Haskell could be possible. Animal Kingdom might be heading the same way, or he could be pointed to the Travers or the Arlington Million or the Secretariat Stakes. Nehro, who ran fourth, will be having surgery later this week after coming out of the Belmont with an ankle chip, according to DRF.com.
Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!