The field of 2011 Belmont Stakes predictions will be split pretty evenly between the Kentucky Derby winner and the Preakness Stakes winner, when Animal Kingdom and Shackleford take the track on Saturday, June 10th. Animal Kingdom almost brought a lot of interest back into the sport if he would’ve won the Preakness Stakes as well, but instead it was Shackleford holding on for the win and making sure that the Triple Crown possibilities wait one more year. Both of these horses are listed as 5-1 favorites at Bodog.com. A year after not a single horse competed in all three Triple Crown races, it looks like Shackleford, Animal Kingdom and Mucho Macho Man are prepared to tackle the entire series. Good for Dale Romans, Graham Motion, Kathy Ritvo and their owners. Great horses run in great races and the Belmont is a classic event.
Shackleford is scheduled to ship from Churchill Downs on either Sunday or Monday and will likely work at Big Sandy on June 4. This could be the first Belmont Stakes featuring a rubber match since 2005, when Derby winner Giacomo met Preakness winner Afleet Alex. It turned into a no-contest when Afleet Alex ran away from the field to win by seven lengths, while Giacomo tired to seventh. I think the same thing will happen here, as I like Shackleford’s at 5-1 odds to win this race and finish the season with two of the Triple Crown betting races under his belt. Either way, this race will not disappoint and I can tell because of the way in which the first two legs played out.
Last year’s Belmont Stakes didn’t feature either the Derby winner (Super Saver) or the Preakness winner (Lookin At Lucky) and only 45,243 saw Drosselmeyer win. In 2009, when Mine That Bird was trying to give Calvin Borel a sweep of the "Calvin Crown," a total of 52,861 fans showed up. Borel won the Derby aboard Mine That Bird, the Preakness on Rachel Alexandra, but he could only get third in the Belmont. I expect more fans to show up this year, as there are few stories of interest to the public within this field of horses This race will probably carry the lowest winning payouts of all three major races, because the odds for these contenders have carried over and remained solid. Some people like Mucho Macho Man to finally get it done, but I just don’t see that happening.