06/08/2005 11:00PM

Belmont Stakes analysis

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It goes without saying that if you want to win this edition of the Belmont Stakes, you're going to have to beat Afleet Alex, who clipped heels and nearly fell down turning for home in the Preakness, and still won by almost five lengths.

But there has been something that has been bothering me about the Preakness, and it is this: Scrappy T just about bolted at the top of the stretch, causing Afleet Alex his severe trouble, and yet he still finished five lengths clear for second. What that tells me is, except for Afleet Alex and perhaps Scrappy T, no other horse in the Preakness ran even one step. I really don't want to take anything away from Afleet Alex, but if almost every horse behind him at Pimlico failed to run a jump, it may have made it much easier for him to overcome the trouble he encountered.

On top of that is Afleet Alex's Beyer Speed Figure pattern. Every time Afleet Alex has raced after earning a triple-digit Beyer, he regressed between 9 and 32 Beyer points. Afleet Alex can fall off 9 points from the 112 Beyer he earned winning the Preakness and still win this. But that's no cinch. And since I didn't pick him at more than 3-1 in the Preakness, I'm not going to jump on him now at odds of around even money.

I'm taking Reverberate to upset Afleet Alex. Reverberate has improved since getting blinkers three starts ago, and in the process of being easily second best in the quickly run Peter Pan last time out, he proved he can rate and still be effective. That is key, because Reverberate projects to sit a nice stalking trip behind Pinpoint, and perhaps A.P. Storm.

Despite Afleet Alex nearly falling and Scrappy T blowing the turn for home, Giacomo was still beaten almost 10 lengths while finishing third in the Preakness. That performance lent great weight to the belief that Giacomo's 50-1 upset in the Derby was entirely due to extremely slow final fractions. But as he did at Pimlico, he could clunk up for a share.

Andromeda's Hero has pointed to this since finishing eighth in the Derby. He was soundly beaten by Afleet Alex two starts back in the Arkansas Derby, but he at least figures to be moving forward in the late stages, while many of the rest will have long since sounded their retreat.

* Reverberate

* Afleet Alex

* Giacomo

* Andromeda's Hero