The Belmont Stakes. A mile and a half.
Unlike any other race, this particular race is not about who has the pedigree for 12f. That is a severe misstep in thinking by some so-called pedigree guru's out there. Quite frankly, every colt in the starting gate will cross the finish line at some point unless they are eased during the race. This race revolves around an entirely different perspective. Unlike the Derby, where distance is a major factor and speed vs stamina compete down the stretch, the Belmont dances to its own beat.
What is predominant in the Belmont Stakes is a profile that exhibits the perfect Speed/Stamina Balance. In other words, the highest and lowest of the spectrum may in fact dominate most all graded stakes races between 8f and 11f, whereas it is almost a downfall when competing in the Belmont Stakes.
This is not to say that some editions of the Belmont could never produce a winner who was overly dominant in speed (Pharoah) or overly dominant in stamina (Drosselmeyer) but the true advantage in this race belongs to those who inherited a closer to even balance while the others fill in the bottom.
The 2.10 to 3.00 colts have the advantage going this distance and only the best navigate the 12f with less stress to their normal running capabilities.
Basically, a speed horse will need to find serious endurance somewhere at the 11f mark and only the best of the best can conquer that last furlong. Most cases the speed will hold on for a piece under (Unlike last year with American Pharoah). A stamina horse will need to find some speed way past that 8 to 9f mark where in a normal race it usually begins to emerge. Now it will need to emerge past 11f. (Unlike 2010 with Drosselmeyer). This then puts stress on their otherwise winning ways and changes the dynamics of how they performed up until this point. Meanwhile, the average middle of the spectrum horses, who struggled for wins up against the high speed and the high stamina along the way, now find themselves in the strange position to capitalize on their even inheritance. Along with this, we are given a small gift of better odds on these guys, based on their past performances running at distances that were not optimum for them. The tides turn for these guys, even if just for a day.
The most advantage for the Belmont Stakes is an index that starts at exactly 2.10 and ends at exactly 3.00. This means that the horse gained 2 to 3 times more speed than stamina. Not too much and not too little. An even mix. It is more likely that the top 4 will be dominant in this range and either the top speed and/or the top stamina will fill in around them, with SPEED having a slight advantage over stamina.
When looking at past fields, it is safe to say that these 2.10 to 3.00 colts have an ADVANTAGE at 12f. This does not mean that they are a lock, this means that the 12f distance is one advantage in their inheritance. One must look to see then which other factors the particular colt has OVER the others within that category. Here is a look back at the winning tickets of the last twelve editions of the Belmont Stakes. With the exception of 2010, advantage at 12f either winning or hitting the board went to the AVERAGE colts within the field. Speed then came in second advantage and lastly, stamina had the disadvantage. The point here is that unlike other graded stakes races, STAMINA - the ability to get the 12f - is not realistically a factor at all when handicapping the Belmont Stakes. Those who seem to have the best stamina to navigate 12f are at the least advantage of them all. The main factor is the perfect balance of that Stamina WITH the perfect balance of Speed. Average 2.10 through 3.00 colts.
Last 29 editions of the Belmont Stakes:
19 winners between 2.10 to 3.00 index. (All but one was won a Normal Track) 5 winners under 2.00. (Two of those wins came on a sloppy track) 5 winners above 3.01. (Three of those wins had troubled races or few entrants)
In the last 29 editions of the Belmont Stakes, only one, American Pharoah, won the race with profile points under twelve. Important to note, in the 77 editions of the Belmont stakes since 1940, only three horses managed a win with Profile Points Total under twelve: In 2015, Pharoah had 8 total points. In 1959, Sword Dancer had 10 total points and in 1943, Count Fleet had only 4 total points.
If it rains, a stamina horse (under 2.00) will have a stronger advantage in pursuit of a win. Out of the 5 horses who won the Belmont with an index below 2.00, Four of those editions were cloudy or rainy. Only Drosselmeyer won this race with a 1.75 index on a clear day with a fast track since 1990. Unlike the Kentucky Derby, not one of the five winners since 1990 who won the Belmont with an index over 3.10 was on a sloppy track. All five of those wins came on a good dry track.
Of the 5 horses who won the Belmont with an index over 3.10 since 1990, only 2 of them had run in a fair clean normal race – Pharoah and Thunder Gulch. The other 3 races had bad starts, injuries, low entrants, etc. In other words, three of the five winners with an index of 3.10 had some other forces to aid in their win.
Out of the 19 races won by horses between 2.10 and 3.00, only Ruler on Ice won the race on a sloppy track. All 18 others won the race on a normal track. 14 won the race on a clear day and fast track. For AP Indy, it was hazy. For Union Rags, it was cloudy. (However, the tracks were both listed as good and fast.)
Over the last 14 years, only Drosselmeyer (Clear day) took the trophy with a 1.75 index. This is on the higher end of the stamina spectrum. Birdstone 1.77 (Cloudy) and Empire Maker 1.88 (Sloppy) were also on the higher end of the stamina spectrum. We must go back to 1993, when Colonial Affair won with a very low 1.19 index. He won on a very sloppy track.
Since Sarava in 2002 and Commendable in 2000, only the monster American Pharoah was able to go the distance with a high 4.33 index.
The bottom line based on the last 28 years:
1. Chef Index between 1.00 and 2.00 have a 17.8% win rate.
2. Chef Index between 2.10 and 3.00 have a 64.28% win rate.
3. Chef index between 3.10 and 4.00 have a 7.14% win rate.
4. Chef index between 4.10 and 5.00 have a 10.71% win rate.
5. Chef index above 5.10 have a 0% win rate.
6. Over the last 28 years, 66.67% advantage rate goes to a stamina horse (under 2.00) on a sloppy track over a 2.10 to 3.00 “average” horse. 0% advantage to a horse over 3.10.
7. In the Money Horses – 2nd, 3rd and 4th have a greater chance of being filled with 2.10 to 3.00 horses just as their win rates depict. Stamina and Speed horses are split evenly just as their win percentages are.
Over the last 13 years: A stamina horse (under 2.00) has a 7.69% win rate. A speed horse (over 3.10) has a 7.69% win rate. An “average” horse (2.10 – 3.00) has an 84.61% win rate.
1990 to 2017 Belmont Stakes Winners:
Year – Index – Horse – Points – Conditions – Info for Exception Years
1990 2.71 GO AND GO (26) (Clear Fast) 1991 2.29 HANSEL (28) (Clear Fast ) 1992 2.45 A. P. INDY (38) (Hazy Fast) 1993 1.19 COLONIAL AFFAIR (34) (Rainy Sloppy) (Two were eased, broke down) 1994 3.57 TABASCO CAT (16) (Cloudy Fast) (Only 6 Entrants) 1995 4.00 THUNDER GULCH (20) (Cloudy Fast) (Good Clean race) 1996 2.29 EDITOR'S NOTE (28) (Clear Fast) 1997 1.82 TOUCH GOLD (24) (Cloudy Fast) (Good Clean Race) 1998 3.00 VICTORY GALLOP (22) (Clear Fast) 1999 2.62 LEMON DROP KID (38) (Clear Fast) 2000 5.00 COMMENDABLE (42) (Clear Fast) (Four entrants checked, bobbled or eased) 2001 3.00 POINT GIVEN (16) (Clear Fast) 2002 4.50 SARAVA (22) (Clear Fast) (Seven entrants either stumbled, steadied, or vanned off) 2003 1.88 EMPIRE MAKER (36) (Rainy, Sloppy) (Only 6 Entrants) 2004 1.77 BIRDSTONE (18) (Cloudy Fast) (Good Clean Race) 2005 2.11 AFLEET ALEX (14) (Cloudy Fast) 2006 3.00 JAZIL (28) (Clear Fast) 2007 3.00 RAGS TO RICHES (22) (Clear Fast) 2008 2.43 DA' TARA (12) (Clear Fast) 2009 2.56 SUMMER BIRD (16) (Clear Fast) 2010 1.75 DROSSLEMEYER (22) (Clear Fast) (Good Clean Race) 2011 2.56 RULER ON ICE (16) (Cloudy Sloppy) 2012 2.14 UNION RAGS (22) (Cloudy Good) 2013 2.64 PALACE MALICE (Pts: 20) (Clear Fast) 2014 2.78 TONALIST (34) (Clear Fast) 2015 4.33 AMERICAN PHAROAH (8) (Clear Fast) (Good Clean Race) 2016 3.00 CREATOR (26) (Clear Fast)
2017 3.00 TAPWRIT (28) (Clear Fast)
All of these statistics come down to ADVANTAGES, not who will win and who won't. As each year shows, different conditions will impact any horse with an advantage and each year can and will produce a winner that did not have that advantage.
These numbers only confirm that a balanced inheritance, as opposed to those who inherited an overabundance of either speed or stamina, has an advantage going 12f at the Belmont Track. Conditions and bias will impact these outcomes.