Animal Kingdom and Shackleford are generating most of the buzz for the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes, and they should given their respective accomplishments over the past month, but they are not the only contenders in tomorrow's race. Several colts appear capable of challenging the impressive pair, including long shots such as Santiva and Prime Cut, which are listed at 18 to 1 and 20 to 1 Sports Betting Odds, respectively, to win the "Test of Champions".
Aside from an unexplainable ninth place finish at the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes on April 16th, Santiva has put together an impressive record. The Giant's Causeway sired colt took first place at the 1 1/16 mile, Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November and it followed up that victory with a second place finish at the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes in February.
Santiva did not wow at the Derby, taking sixth place after starting the race from Gate 12 (a post that has not yielded a winner since 1966 – Kauai King), but the colt outperformed expectations nonetheless (+3000 odds).
Santiva, which did not participate in the Preakness Stakes, will begin the Belmont from Gate 4, a post that produced 2004 and 2009 winners Birdstone and Summer Bird.
Assistant trainer Brendan Walsh was pleased enough with draw, but he also pointed out that the starting position at the Belmont is not as critical as it is in the other two Triple Crown races.
"I guess the general view here is that the draw doesn't have a huge bearing," Walsh said. "Where he is (post 4), he's a horse that likes to just sit off the pace, and I think from there he can slide in and get nice and tight and be a horse or two off the rail. Hopefully there will be two or three in front of him; that would be ideal. He'll naturally take himslef along there anyway, so that's a good post."
The favorite to win the 2011 Belmont Stakes, Animal Kingdom (+250), will start the race from Gate 9. Shackleford's bid to secure the last and most difficult leg of the Triple Crown Series will begin from Gate 12.
Animal Kingdom +250
Master of Hounds +600
Mucho Macho Man +700
Brilliant Speed +1200
Stay Thirsty +2000
Prime Cut +2000
Ruler On Ice +2800
Isn't He Perfect +3000