06/06/2013 5:11PM

Steven Crist: Belmont picks have familiar ring to them

Email
Tom Keyser
Overanalyze may be better than double-digit morning-line odds suggest.

My 1-2-3 picks for the Belmont Stakes are the same 1-2-3 picks I made five weeks ago for the Kentucky Derby, even though they ran 11-1-3 instead of 1-2-3 and none of them won the Preakness. I swear I am not merely being stubborn. Let me explain.

[BELMONT STAKES: Live updates and video from Belmont Park]

I picked Overanalyze over Orb in the Derby and got absolutely no run for my money. In a hot-paced Derby where horses running 16th, 15th, and 17th early ended up leading the field under the wire, you would think the race set up well for a horse who was 14th early. Overanalyze gained only three places and was beaten more than 13 lengths.

Many handicappers concluded that this proved Overanalyze a second-rater, and maybe they'll be proven correct. However, I think that as the winner of the Belmont Futurity, Remsen, and Arkansas Derby, he is better than that and deserves another chance, especially at a big price. He was 16-1 in the Derby and he's 12-1 on the morning line for the Belmont.

Price is one of the few things not to like about Orb. He may well turn out to be the best of these 3-year-olds, and he's easy to root for because his connections are sporting and likelier to keep running him in important races than to hustle him off to stud. I think he'll be around 2-1 Saturday, and that just seems too short a price on two counts.

First, for whatever reason, since Affirmed's Triple Crown in 1978, only two Derby winners have won the Belmont - Swale and Thunder Gulch. Second, while Orb's Derby was visually impressive, it received a ho-hum Beyer Speed Figure, and his Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby figures were similarly mediocre at best. He's a very nice horse, but not a spectacular talent at this stage.

Revolutionary strikes me as a horse whose best days are in front of him. He took a while to get his act together and was still green winning the Louisiana Derby before running a solid third at Churchill Downs. It won't take a lot of improvement to pull him closer to Orb.

As for leaving out Oxbow, he's obviously talented, but I don't think he'll get the same dream setup he did in the Preakness, where he got loose and relaxed on the lead through a very mild pace of 1:13.26 for the first six furlongs. It appears he will have some company early this time in addition to having to stretch out an additional five-sixteenths of a mile.

However the race turns out, my fondest hope is that the principals in this year's Triple Crown races stick around and race for a while. Last year, I'll Have Another, Bodemeister, and Union Rags never ran again after the series but still justifiably finished 1-2-3 in the voting for the 3-year-old championship when no other 3-year-old routers emerged to be factors later in the year. Racing is a lot more fun when the 3-year-olds continue to improve and race and take on the top older horses in the fall.

Goodbye to an editor

Of the roughly 700 columns I've written for Daily Racing Form over the last 15 years, this is the last one that will be edited by Rich Rosenbush, who signed on as Executive Editor in 1998 and later became our Editor-in-Chief. He's been fooling with my copy even longer than that, having been my principal editor on the sports desk of The New York Times when I was their racing writer from 1981 to 1990.

Rich was a building block of the new team that bought Daily Racing Form in 1998, and the architect of the goal to make it a professional, objective news operation with high standards and top writers. He succeeded and was widely respected not only by his staff but also by industry leaders, even when they disagreed with something in the paper.

We had our dustups over the years when he would call to strongly suggest I eliminate an unnecessarily inflammatory adjective, or had been less than fair. I usually argued with him, but had to concede the next day when I read the column in print that he had been right. He made us better writers and made this a better newspaper.