The Man o’ War Preview

Belmont, Race 9, 5:17 pm ET
The G1 Man o’ War, 3-and-Up, 1 and 3/8 Miles, Inner Turf
Check back before the race for changes or updates to our betting strategy
See free TimeformUS Past Performances for the Man o’ War

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Fittingly enough, according to weather reports at time of writing, the Man o’ War will quite possibly be run in wet conditions, which would seem to favor the chances of the morning line favorite, Boisterous, while harming the chances of Twilight Eclipse and having uncertain effects on the chances of the second choice on the morning line, Optimizer. Be that as it may, Optimizer is the selection here, come rain or come shine.

In his three most recent races, Optimizer has recorded speed figures of 118, 116, and 123, numbers that are a match for Boisterous’s best turf numbers and more than a match for the numbers of any other horse in this field. In addition, Optimizer has produced solid efforts at distances both longer and shorter than today’s and on turf courses both firm and soft. Putting it charitably, his trainer, D Wayne Lukas, is not what one would call a Belmont specialist (see his Belmont trainer rating), but he got a top effort out of this colt on this very course only five weeks ago. Moreover, according to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, the pace dynamics of this race favor horses on or near the early lead, which figures to flatter Optimizer’s running style.

Boisterous enters this race third off the layoff, formidable speed figures in tow, while sporting an enviable record on soft turf for a trainer whose trainer ratings range from solid to downright gaudy. These factors make him a very serious contender, but he is liable to go to post at odds below his morning line. Exclusive Strike is in over his head in terms of class but not in terms of speed figures. This combination makes for an interesting longshot who is worthy of inclusion in exotics.

Update:
The weather is indeed a factor at Belmont. It looks as if the rain may be done falling for a while, but its effects will linger, and the turf course is listed as good. These conditions warrant adding Speaking of Which to the mix, since the course figures to be quite unlike the courses that have caused him grief since he arrived in the United States from Ireland. He has a speed figure of 118 (earned in Ireland as a three-year-old) to shoot at, and in his last race he was involved in a nasty little war with his rider during the early part of the race and still prevailed. Plus his Irish form suggests that the distance will give him little trouble. Call him a win bet at odds of 8-1 or higher and by all means use him in exactas and trifectas under Optimizer and Boisterous.
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