My grandfather would have had a field day trying to bet on all the gray horses on this Belmont Saturday at Santa Anita. I took his advice of ‘always bet the gray’ on a few races but didn’t do it every time. Had I done so I would have won a good chunk of change betting on the winner, Creator in the Belmont Stakes, along with the second and third place finishes of that race, Destin and Lani, also grays. Exaggerator, Santa Anita’s fan pick, did not rally and finished well behind. The Keith Desormeaux trained horse finished eleventh, and jockey, Kent Desormeaux basically said that, when asked, Exaggerator had nothing to give.
Two other grays were also entered in the field for the Belmont, making the grays five out of the eleven horses. Back home at Santa Anita, gray horses took three out of the eleven races on the card.
In the 1st, heavy favorite and beautiful dappled gray, Midnight Hawk was off a bit slow but rallied hard to clear the field and win, with jockey, Stewart Elliott aboard. The longest shot in the field took the 2nd, when bay Poshsky and Fernando Perez gamely took the lead and held it over favorite, Alert Bay and Tyler Baze. Poshsky went off at 21 to 1 while Alert Bay was even money. This was the only stakes race on the card, the ungraded Crystal Water.
The gray filly, Audra and jockey, Rafael Bejarano upset favorite Magical Touch and Brayan Pena after she cleared the field in the upper stretch to win the 3rd. The gray though did not favor well in the 4th, finishing second to last, while heavily favored Ajac scored, with Tyler Baze aboard. The dark brown son of Benchmark ran away from the pack with seeming ease, leaving everyone else in the dust as the rain gently began to fall.
It was a few more races though before a gray would hit the wire ahead again. In the 5th, Thermodynamics came out a few times coming down the stretch, but Joseph Talamo got him straightened out and he won clear over Zip N Bayou and Tiago Pereira. There was no stopping the wound up Look Me in the Eye, who was on his toes in the paddock before the 6th. He inched away to give Rafael Bejarano his second win on the day, with Worldwide and Joseph Talamo finishing a close second. The rain continued to trickle down as the day continued but it was never enough to create a sloppy track. 4
Though Clever Royal broke slowly in the 7th, the bay gelding split horses in the stretch and won under urging, giving Rafael Bejarano another win. In the 8th, favorite Macro Access proved best after getting the lead at the sixteenth pole and hanging on over Brave Act, denying Rafael Bejarano another win. Tiago Pereira got his lone win of the day on this gelded son of Argentine sire, Equal Stripes.
Efrain Hernandez got his win on Odin in the 9th, with Tiago Pereira finishing a late running second on Prohibition Repeal. Stormin Trick gave Joseph Talamo another win as he drew away in the stretch. The last race on the card was won by the gray Crimson and Gold under Alex Solis.
Though it was disappointing that Exaggerator could not come out ahead in the Belmont Stakes, there will be another Triple Crown attempt next year and more promising two year olds coming out onto the track soon, including the two year old filly, American Cleopatra, the full sister to American Pharoah.
While Doug O’Neill was being a Handicap Helper with Jon White prior to the race, he hinted at wanting a showdown between Exaggerator and Nyquist. If this happens, Santa Anita will be buzzing as their two favorites go head to head. His picks for the day of course were all his horses, though sadly not a one came in first.
Ajac and Tyler Baze after winning the 4th.JPGAudra and Rafael Bejarano at the wire.JPGCrimson and Gold with Alex Solis.JPGLook Me in the Eye on his toes.JPGMidnight Hawk and Stewart Elliott win the 1st.JPGStormin Trick and Joseph Talamo all alone in the 10th.JPG