ELMONT, N.Y. — Big Brown's rivals in the $1 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday range from Casino Drive, undefeated in two starts, to a colt who has never won a race, called Guadalcanal.
And while 2-5 morning line favorite Big Brown drew a not-so-advantageous post, No. 1, for the 11/2-mile race, the owner/trainer of Guadalcanal said the distance will make all the difference in the world for his colt.
Fred Seitz, owner of Brookdale Farm in Woodford County, said one indicator was the second-place finish for Guadalcanal in a 11/2-mile race on turf at Churchill Downs May 23.
The son of Graeme Hall was defeated by only a nose.
”That showed us he has staying ability. That's why we're thinking“ about the Belmont, Seitz said.
Guadalcanal was a last-minute entry and drew post position No. 2, next to Big Brown. He will have Javier Castellano riding. The Belmont Stakes will be his sixth career start.
”We're not kidding ourselves. We know that we will be an extreme long shot here,“ Seitz said. In fact, Guadalcanal is 50-1, longest price in the field of 10.
Seitz said he buys all his horses through Dr. David Lambert, who bases much of his veterinary practice on scanning horses' hearts for stamina. ”He has a very, very good stayer's heart,“ Seitz said.
”We heartily believe in him,“ Seitz said about his colt. ”We don't know what the others will be doing in that last quarter or eighth of a mile. Stranger things have happened.“
As for Big Brown's No. 1 post in the field of 10, his trainer, Rick Dutrow, accepted this with the same calm he exhibited when selecting the No. 20, far outside post for Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby.
”I just can't see a post position getting him beat,“ Dutrow said. He added that he remains ”every bit“ as confident about Big Brown now as he has throughout the colt's Triple Crown victories in the Derby and Preakness.
Casino Drive, who has had only two career races, was made second betting choice at 7-2. He drew an ideal post, No. 5.
Third betting choice in the morning line is Denis of Cork, 12-1, starting from the No. 4 post.
SATURDAY, 6:25 P.M. (ABC) ELMONT, N.Y.