Commentary

Speed arrested at Belmont

Updated: June 8, 2011, 4:27 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Handicapping occurs when something makes sense, or seems to.

Guessing is all the rest.

One thing making sense before the Belmont Stakes is that Animal Kingdom can't break any worse than he did in Baltimore, when he appeared to have stage fright. If he breaks nearly that bad, he loses.

Races at a mile and a half favor stalking horses from the front half of the field, animals that take the lead at the top of the stretch and pull a semi-Secretariat down the long lane.

The biggest gambles here involve Shackleford and Nehro.

Will Shack get loose by 10 in a race lacking speed?

Nehro's style fits, but he appeared to need resuscitation after the Derby.

A good way to handle horses that could finish first or last is to put them on top in some exotics, then forget about them. Like this:

Shackleford and Nehro over Santiva and Animal Kingdom.

A look at the field

1. Master of Hounds: (10-1) More like a trap than a contender.
2. Stay Thirsty: (20-1) My friends.
3. Ruler on Ice: (20-1) Thin.
4. Santiva: (15-1) On the up-tick, should be shorter than the one.
5. Brilliant Speed: (15-1) Misnamed, but seven straight improved Beyers.
6. Nehro: (4-1) Maiden winner back from spring break.
7. Monzon: (30-1) Beat a total of 13 horses in three wins.
8. Prime Cut: (15-1) Finished Peter Pan.
9. Animal Kingdom: (2-1) Broke on egg shells.
10. Mucho Macho Man: (10-1) Fired jockey.
11. Isn't He Perfect: (30-1) Secured superb parking spot for owner.
12. Shackleford: (9-2) Leader of the pack.

Belmont picks

1. Animal Kingdom
2. Santiva
3. Mucho Macho Man
4. Brilliant Speed

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.