- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 10, 2006

THE FINISH

Ryan O’Halloran of The Washington Times forecasts today’s Belmont Stakes:

1. Steppenwolfer: He came from sixth midway through the Kentucky Derby to finish third behind Barbaro and Bluegrass Cat. Now, with five weeks of preparation and an extra quarter-mile to work with, this colt — although the third betting choice on the morning line (9-2) — is the one to beat. Trainer Danny Peitz has been pointing toward this race all year because his colt should love the 1½-mile distance. Expect him to be running between eighth and last place down the backstretch before he makes a big run under jockey Robby Albarado.

2. Bluegrass Cat: The morning-line favorite off his second-place Derby run, Bluegrass Cat should be one of the top choices, but the favorite? Don’t think so. This is the same horse who finished second in something called the Tampa Bay Derby and a miserable fourth — beaten by 21 lengths — in the Blue Grass Stakes. He does get jockey John Velazquez back from injury, but he’ll be too close to the front to outlast Steppenwolfer.

3. Bob and John: Throw out his 17th-place finish in the Derby. Trainer Bob Baffert said jockey Garrett Gomez gave the colt a bad ride, holding him too far off a pace that featured a slow middle portion. Today he returns to the form that won him the Wood Memorial on April 8. If he doesn’t fire, the third spot is up for grabs amongst Sunriver, Jazil and Hemingway’s Key.

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