06/06/2001 11:00PM

Klein's Belmont Analysis


Balto Star is the lone speed in this race, and there isn't a thing any other horse or jockey in this field can do to change that fact without sacrificing their own chances for victory. Although I don't know for certain that Balto Star wants to go 1 1/2 miles, his win in the Grade 2 Spiral at Turfway suggests that he has the right mental attitude to accomplish the feat. In the Spiral, Balto Star set a 1:10.68 pace. Taken at face value that fraction appears to be reasonable, but Turfway was playing fast that day. It turns out that Balto Star actually was quite tractable in that triumph. He ran slower than par early, then kicked home faster than par late. The result was that he extended his advantage from a length to 12 3/4 lengths during the stretch run of the Spiral. That willingness to relax on the lead, then pour it on late would give Balto Star an excellent chance to carry his speed another three furlongs, and win the Belmont. He will offer attractive overlaid odds.

Draw a line through his defeat in the Derby, and Point Given has won four straight races, three Grade 1's and a Grade 2. He prefers to settle back in the rear half of the pack early, but will probably be asked to make an early bid into striking position on the backstretch since his connections will be anxious to make sure that Balto Star doesn't get away from them. The concern is that the move Point Given will have to make to reach contention will take much of the starch out of the closing charge he will be asked to unleash down the stretch. The alternative is to keep Point Given up close throughout, but the energy he would expend to accomplish that goal might leave him one-paced, or tiring down the lane.

Monarchos regressed in the Preakness for no apparent reason, but had been quite consistent up to that point with four wins and a second from his five previous starts this year. The added distance will help, but the concern is that a tepid pace would hinder him. Nevertheless, a return to the form he displayed in his impressive Derby win would make him formidable.

Invisible Ink has been improving steadily, and can find his way into this exacta with continued progress. He will offer a good price, and should be included as part of your exotic wagering strategy.

A P Valentine showed signs of life in his troubled Derby performance, then ran a nice race when he finished second behind Point Given in the Preakness. He has trained well since that race, and is a perfect 2 for 2 on this track. He used to have some tactical speed, but has been more of a closer in his recent races. That style would leave him vulnerable to a slow pace.

Dollar Bill is overdue for a clean trip, but he is a deep closer who will be at the mercy of the fractions. Dr Greenfield is the wild card and should be considered for light use in the exotics. Thunder Blitz benefited from the fast Derby pace, but will have to work harder this time. Buckle Down Ben appears to be overmatched.