The Belmont used to be easy.
Woody Stephens would have a horse hiding in the weeds in New York, and you just picked Woody's horse. He won five in a row.
Woody's gone, but his approach to the Belmont is not.
Now trainers point their late blooming three year olds toward the first week in June.
Couldn't make the Derby? We have a one million dollar consolation prize and a Grade One trophy.
Here are some of the ways to get to the Belmont.
Don't beat your horse up on the Derby trail. Give him a New York prep race like the Dwyer or the Peter Pan and wait for everybody else to show up on Long Island.
Skip the Preakness. The Triple Crown is a grueling event, so show up at Belmont with a fresh horse.
Look around your barn for a distance pedigree. Not many horses will be running at the end of a mile and a half, so if your horse is just covering ground, you have a chance.
Find a smart jockey with a good sense of pace, who doesn't move too soon at the top of the Belmont stretch. Many a Belmont has been lost by a jock, who hit his horse too early on the last sweeping turn.
And, don't be afraid to enter.
How many people thought that Sarava, Jazil or Birdstone had a chance to win a Grade One. A lot can happen in a mile and a half, and you have to enter to have a chance to win.
And who has a chance to win? Certainly Ice Box will be the favorite based on his stretch run in the Kentucky Derby. He shows up fresh and his stablemate Fly Down won the Dwyer by six lengths on this same track.
Ice Box is a deep closer and he'll be trying to close on First Dude, who may grab the lead as he did in the Preakness.
But the answer to the Belmont may be in between those two favorites.
So, I'm going to pick Drosselmeyer. He's something of a grinder, who gets clever jockey Mike Smith to keep him moving down the stretch.
Drosselmeyer will have to run the race of his life to win the Belmont, but I think he will.
And if you're looking for the exotics, Make Music for Me would be my second choice, and Fly Down third.
And hey, never ever forget Calvin, who sits on the rail.
Happy Belmont everybody!