Commentary

Splish splash at Belmont Park

Updated: June 11, 2011, 9:10 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

How did the Belmont Stakes superfecta pay only $74,000, that's what I'd like to know. Shouldn't it have paid closer to seventy-four-hundred-thousand dollars?

The horse that ran second had lost three of its past four by approximately 42 lengths.

Water is a racetrack chaser, moving forward stuff you wouldn't have bet with somebody else's money. Usually after a race, a person might think that, under a certain light, you could have seen a little something in an exacta, might have caught a hint where it came from. This one, you couldn't have found in waders, getting to bet with a freeze frame halfway around the track. This one, you might have found one of them, getting to make your bet when they were turning for home, but probably not.

Mud turns everything in it silly.

Mud moves average horses up and decent horses down.

Ruler On Ice did have a mud win in Delaware. Where I could have won a maiden special on foot, versus four.

So what did we learn from this one?

A little something.

First off, lay off the extremes, horses that zip to the lead or break last and look around for somebody to bang into. Animal Kingdom might be a fine closer. That and $5 will get you some tickets on some races at dry tracks. There's no getting the bad breaks out of Animal Kingdom's DNA. Shackleford was one of the worst bets in recent memory, rain or no rain, as front-runners at the Belmont win something like once every three or four decades. That he didn't get stuck in the mud halfway home is a testimony to his fierce early momentum. If you're gambling, which is to say if you're playing debatable stuff such as Macho or Hound or Santiva, steer clear of short prices, which turns you into one of those "value" players, which is to say you're fixing to lose.

Next, what we learned was that the Beyer speed figure set got its collective reputation sloshed aside. Neither of the first two finishers had a 90 Beyer, Ruler on Ice cruising into town with a top number of 86 from slot-machine-inspired Sunland Park. All of this shows the drastic altering powers of goo.

Next time it rains:
1. Play stalkers.
2. Forget the numbers.
3. Have a beer.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.