Commentary

Belmont Stakes picks

Updated: June 7, 2008, 1:19 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Saturday's Belmont Stakes will offer about 111,433 people the sporting opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to observe greatness, live.

TV has made looking-glass witnesses of us all. It's doubtful if anybody will bounce a small relative on his or her knee and say: "I'll never forget the time I caught the seventh game of the hockey playoffs on TiVo."

The best memories come live and are of an individual nature; all else is replay.

Everybody should get a major live memory. One of my best in-person memories occurred last summer when Tiger Woods won the PGA Championship at Southern Fried Hills in Tulsa. It wasn't so much a golf shot or two that mattered, it was the fact that Tiger and I and the rest lived, we survived the August Oklahoma heat, whose average summertime temperature is about seven degrees below what's found on Mercury. Southern Fried Hills is hilly and airless and most days the temperature during the PGA flew over 100. Then the sun came up. About the only breeze was created by paramedics rushing blacked-out spectators to air conditioned tents. I caught one woman who fainted. It's why they seldom play the PGA south of a cool breath of fresh air.

Belmont Stakes
This monstrous track is befitting of a dramatic occasion. Sometimes you need binoculars to find the beer.

At first glance, you might wonder: Where are the hedges for the horses to jump?

The only sure thing in horse racing is you could be as good a handicapper as the next person.

Big Brown could lose for the following reasons:

The foot.

I saw a close-up photo of the crack and felt similar to when alleged chef Matt sliced off the tip of his finger on Hell's Kitchen and kept on cooking, the sliced part having fallen into a pan of hash-like stuff, where it was stirred in with the mix, virtually disappearing.

But somebody has to trust somebody occasionally in this world, the connections to be right about the foot, here.

Casino Drive.

Has raced twice.

The grind.

One five-furlong work in three works is considered pushing it.

The number 1 hole.

This isn't Penn National.

The rail has been soft, and you have to be close to the lead at a mile and a half -- most closing is done for third -- so Big Brown will probably have to move it and shake it some early.

Picks
1. Big Brown
2. Tale of Ekati
3. Casino Drive
4. Icabad Crane

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.