by Mark Mayer | It’s not that Casino Drive’s hoof injury was severe, but his handlers did not want to risk further damage running him in the 140th edition of the Belmont Stakes. So the chances of Big Brown becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years are even greater, if not previously considered a foregone conclusion.
Big Brown has his own injury concerns, but will wear an acrylic patch on his front left foot and is good to go. With Casino Drive out of the race, the morning odds at the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook went down on Big Brown from 1-3 to 1-4. Big Brown has seen the extremes of post positions, drawing the far outside 20 post at the Kentucky Derby and the 1 slot along the rail for the Belmont.
The track has been muddy during the week in New York, but the forecast for the 3 p.m. PT start is for partly cloudy skies, 91 degrees and just a 10 percent chance of rain. Big Brown breezed to easy victories in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but no horse has been able to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed back in 1978.
The field is now down to nine horses, with the top threats now expected to come from Macho Again, Denis Of Cork, Tale of Ekati and Anak Nakal. The Belmont is contested over a mile and a half, the longest distance of the Triple Crown races. Each horse will race at 126 pounds.
Here are the post positions for the Belmont:
1 Big Brown
3 Macho Again
4 Denis Of Cork
5 Casino Drive (scratched)
6 Da’ Tara
7 Tale Of Ekati
8 Anak Nakal
9 Ready’s Echo
10 Icabad Crane