ESPN Horse Racing

McNamara's Belmont analysis
By Ed McNamara
Special to

Artax Too
Looks like a vanity entry for owner Ernie Paragallo, who has said this colt is a serious horse. Not in this race. Has won two straight in much weaker company and belongs in an allowance race, not "The Test of the Champion."

Essence of Dubai
After his Derby flop, it's surprising to see him in another classic. His grandsires, A.P. Indy and Summing, won the Belmont, so at least he has the pedigree to stay. His deep closing style doesn't fit this race's winner's profile, although he might get up late to hit the board.

Like A Hero
Looked good winning a minor stakes at 1 1/8 miles at Hollywood Park recently, and has the breeding for 12 furlongs (by Pleasant Colony out of a Silver Hawk mare). Has run only four times and never has faced heavyweights. May have a future but this assignment looks like too much, too soon.

Magic Weisner
Came flying late to be second at 45-1 at Pimlico, so trainer Nancy Alberts is taking a shot. Why not? Maternal grandsire Bold Forbes won the '76 Belmont, but don't expect this gelding to repeat that feat. Unless you made money off him in the Preakness, think twice about betting on him.

Medaglia d'Oro
Bobby Frankel said after the Preakness that he was going to freshen up this colt and try him on turf, but he's had a change of heart. Had trouble in the Derby and apparently didn't handle the track at Pimlico, but how many excuses do you want to give a horse that's 0-for-3 beyond a mile and a sixteenth? I think 1 1/8 miles is his limit, but the Frankel factor will tempt many.

Perfect Drift
Gelding ran well for third in the Derby and skipped the Preakness, and he looks like one of the few that could upset War Emblem. Pedigree says he should run on farther than most of these rivals, and few are better than Eddie Delahoussaye at riding marathons. Has enough tactical speed to be in position to strike if War Emblem gets tired. A contender.

Proud Citzen
Couldn't beat War Emblem twice but didn't miss by much either time. Troubled, wide trip cost him at least second and perhaps a chance to win in the Preakness. Might Wayne Lukas tell Mike Smith to gun him to the lead at all costs and take the fight to War Emblem? Maybe, but is he fast enough early to get to the front before the favorite? Has backed up twice in deep stretch, but never toss out Lukas in a world-class race. Remember Commendable? Pedigree is iffy for 1 1/2 miles but belongs in exotics.

Repent got hurt and Harlan's Holiday peaked too soon, so Ken McPeek goes with his third-stringer. Former European hasn't run a bad one in five tries on dirt but has serious class and distance questions. Winning the Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard doesn't make him a contender for the Belmont.

Sunday Break
If you're a wise guy, here's your best chance to knock off War Emblem. Missing the Derby because he didn't have enough graded-stakes earnings was a blessing, because he wasn't ready then for the big time. Looks like he is now. His Peter Pan win was impressive and took little if anything out of him, because Gary Stevens had it measured all the way. If anybody can get a late developer ready to go 1 1/2 miles, it's Neil Drysdale. May be a bit of an underlay but very dangerous.

War Emblem
A horse for the ages or the best of a bad lot? He's overdue to go backward after three straight knockout wins, but maybe he's been sufficiently Baffertized to get it done where Silver Charm and Real Quiet failed. Logically, he should win and deserves to be 4-5 or so, but my gut tells me the racing gods will conspire to deny him. Even if he gets out on the lead by himself, I think 1 1/2 miles could do him in. Sometimes they get tired even if they don't get pressured up front.

Wiseman's Ferry
Dictated quick pace (:46 1/5, 1:10) and wired Lone Star Derby despite starting from Post 14. Pedigree is slanted toward speed (by Hennessy out of a Silver Deputy mare) but he could do enough for a mile or so to complicate matters for War Emblem. Will be in the mix for quite a while.