At a mile-and-a-half, the Belmont Stakes is the longest of the major outings in the horse racing year — hence the reason they term the race “the test of a champion.” For a speed racer like Shackleford, it places him at a distinct disadvantage since his initial burst fades given more time and distance. Thus, the 16-1 odds facing Shackleford as of early this morning.
But clouds loom on the horizon of the 143rd running of the 2011 Belmont Stakes and they signify that track conditions could be changing. On paper, Shackleford looks like an underdog, even though he just won the 2011 Preakness Stakes a few weeks ago. Coming from a post position on the outside, Shackleford already sits at a position that only one horse in the last 143 races has won from. Given his “speed” label, Shackleford was actually a safer bet to finish out of the money than at the top.
But inclement weather will make the track run slower, giving a speed horse even more of an advantage. Perhaps Shackleford can create an even greater lead from the outset that no other horse will be able to overcome at the end. At the very least, it makes the speed label less of an issue when everything becomes cloudy — from the sky to predictions. Either way, it’s just another reason why today’s Belmont Stakes should be an interesting race to watch.