Spinoff, despite his 15-1 odds on the morning line, looks like a winner and is, in this writer’s opinion, the key horse for the trifecta and superfecta. Toss out his Kentucky Derby performance in the slop and instead focus on his career-high 102 Brisnet speed figure in the Louisiana Derby -- it is just one tick shy of par (103) for the Belmont Stakes. His pedigree is solid, too: Spinoff’s sire, Hard Spun, finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes during the 2007 Triple Crown. Spinoff’s mother, Zaftig, was sired by Gone West, who was the damsire (grandfather) to 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags.
Sir Winston has also shown he is fast enough to contend (101 Brisnet speed figure in the Peter Pan Stakes). In addition, lightly-raced Intrepid Heart has come close to par in his last race (96 Brisnet speed figure in the Peter Pan Stakes, his third career start) despite stumbling at the start and getting bumped later in the race.
All three horses are solid building blocks at the top of your trifecta or superfecta ticket.
Plus, future Belmont winners, and a vast majority of those that finish in the money, inherit between two and three times as much speed than stamina from their pedigree, expressed as a dosage index — a numerical expression of a horse’s pedigree first published in the Daily Racing Form in 1981 — between 2.00 and 3.00. For example, since 2013, half of the runners entered in the Belmont Stakes had a dosage index between 2.00 and 3.00, yet they account for five of the six winners (American Pharoah is the outlier with a dosage index of 4.33) and more than three-fourths of the horses finishing first, second or third. If you boxed all the horses satisfying this dosage requirement in a $2 exacta during each iteration of the Belmont Stakes from 2013 to 2018 you would have made a net profit of $675 on an investment of $144, not bad for one handicapping angle over a six-year span. Here are the five horses in this race with the optimum dosage index around which to build the top part of trifecta and superfecta tickets: Bourbon War, Intrepid Heart, Master Fencer, Sir Winston and Spinoff.
“I think Intrepid Heart is clearly bred for this race,” trainer Todd Pletcher told the NYRA Press Office. “He’s by Tapit, who’s had a lot of success in the race. He’s out of a Touch Gold mare. Touch Gold won the Belmont. He’s a half to Commissioner [second in the 2014 Belmont]. If you look at his pedigree, it’s AP Indy and Seattle Slew. There’s a lot of Belmont history supporting his pedigree. And, out of the three Triple Crown races, I think pedigree plays the biggest role in this one.”
Bourbon War could benefit from the addition of Joevia, an early front-runner, although it is not a given the son of Shanghai Bobby will try to go wire-to-wire. Joevia’s trainer, Gregg Sacco, said his intent in the Long Branch Stakes was to have Joevia come off the pace but the sloppy track, which favors early speed, changed his strategy. Joevia did come off the pace in his first career race, a maiden win at Monmouth Park, but that, too, was in the slop. He is 0 for 3 (two second-place finishes) on a fast, dry track. Early forecasts call for exactly that on Saturday.
If Joevia does push the pace early, closers like Bourbon War have a better chance to make a late bid. If not, Tacitus, who likes to sit behind the first flight of horses, could benefit and finish second or third.
For show slots, consider Tax and War of Will in addition to the six horses mentioned above. Tax has three triple-digit Brisnet speed figures -- as many as the rest of the field combined -- and a stalking style that could see him hang around for a piece of the board. War of Will showed his stalking style in the Preakness but the toll of running each leg of the Triple Crown is a lot to overcome, discounting his chances for a first- or second-place finish.
Trifecta betting strategy
50-cent trifecta ticket: 6 with 3,5,7,8 with ALL for $16 (Translation: No. 6 to win, Nos. 3,5,7,8 to finish second and all horses to finish third.)
50-cent trifecta ticket: 3,5,7,8 with 6 with ALL for $16
50-cent trifecta ticket: ALL with 3,5,7,8 with 6 for $16
Superfecta betting strategy
50-cent super 6,8 with 6,8 with 4,5,9,10 with 4,5,9,10 for $12
50-cent super 6 with 8 with 4,5,9,10 with ALL for $14
10-cent super 6 with 3,4,5,8,9,10 with 3,4,5,8,9,10 with ALL for $21
10-cent super ALL with 6 with 4,5,8,9,10 with 4,5,8,9,10 for $14