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Gettysburg Muddles Pace Scenario in Belmont Stakes

Gettysburg Muddles Pace Scenario in Belmont Stakes by Reinier Macatangay: WinStar Farm announced their intention to enter Gettysburg in the 148th Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, and bettors hoping to support closers in the race could not be happier. While tactics can change, all indications point towards Gettysburg going to the front, with stablemate Creator lagging behind hoping for pace.

Gettysburg Muddles Pace Scenario in Belmont Stakes

Todd Pletcher previously conditioned Gettysburg until Elliot Walden, the president and CEO of WinStar, made the change to Steve Asmussen (pictured above). Photo: Coglianese, NYRA

Todd Pletcher previously conditioned Gettysburg until Elliot Walden, the president and CEO of WinStar, made the change to Steve Asmussen.

As seen in a press release, Walden told Daily Racing Form on Monday: “When you start talking strategies and a trainer has multiple horses in the race it can get a little confusing sometimes. The fact Steve has Gettysburg and Creator and we’re his only owner takes out the conflict of having multiple horses in the race.”

The explanation for the barn switch is logical. Yet, the effects of Gettysburg’s Belmont presence are unclear.

While Gettysburg appears set to weaken Destin, Stradivari or any other horse near the pace, the competing jockeys may not encourage their mounts and let Gettysburg roll in the clear. Even if the tempo goes at a rapid clip, a quality horse near the lead or in midpack will get first run and possibly hold off the closers.

Remember the fast pace in the 2013 Belmont Stakes (23.11, 46.66, 1:10.95). Kentucky Derby (GI) champion Orb had a great setup, and flattened out for third. Speed horses Palace Malice and Oxbow finished in the top two positions. Just because Gettysburg goes to the front does not mean Creator or another closer will win.

On that note, it must be pointed out that despite the wide assumption of Gettysburg entering as a rabbit, he will not be coupled with Creator. Since the horses are uncoupled, bettors may wish to give Gettysburg consideration.

A few factors in his favor will be discussed, but the recent form does not indicate an upcoming win.

For example, Gettysburg lost a recent allowance race by over six lengths. Prior to the loss, the Pioneerof the Nile colt set a sharp pace in the Arkansas Derby (GI) before fading to fifth.

Three races ago, Gettysburg placed second in an ungraded Sunland Park stakes. The winner Collected went on to win the Lexington Stakes (GIII), before disappointing in the Preakness Stakes (GI) with a 10th-place finish.

If some positives for Gettysburg must be pointed out, none of the Belmont horses are proven at 12 furlongs. Few handicappers assume a horse perfect at sprint distances will transfer his form to a route without question. The same logic could be used for the Belmont Stakes, giving an opening to improve and last a bit longer.

Traditional tools such as speed figures lessen in importance, as the horses do not own any 12-furlong numbers to analyze. The difference between 10 and 12 furlongs is quite large, and makes the race confusing.

So, if nothing else, Gettysburg has the unknown factor working in his favor.

With Paco Lopez expected on board, expect a Da’ Tara-esque strategy (watch the 2008 edition). In all likelihood though, even with a clear lead Gettysburg will fade on the far turn, although if he gets brave … well, what a story it would be! Rabbit or not, the addition of Gettysburg has added some additional intrigue to the Belmont Stakes.

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