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How is it that somehow I can’t get away from a horse that is 1 for 8 in this year’s Belmont??? I strongly believe Master of Hounds will run a big race. I loved his performance in the Derby. The comment line reads “worked thru traffic” which couldn’t be truer. For a long time, Garrett Gomez had NOWHERE to go in the stretch but once he did get clear sailing, Master of Hounds attacked the ground and fought past horse after horse down the lane. In fact, he dug in gamely to get past Santiva who had the jump on him to win the photo for fifth. Visually, aside from the winner, Master of Hounds is the one horse my eye is drawn to as I watch the Derby replay over and over. His frequent flyer miles are a bit of a concern. He made his first trip stateside for the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf and actually went off favored. He was steadied early in that race and ended up a lackluster sixth after the trouble. It was back home to Ballydoyle after that. He then shipped to Dubai and his gutty performance in the UAE Derby off a five month layoff is proof that he has improved at three. The fillies in Dubai this year were considered very strong and Master of Hounds’ nose defeat to Khawlah was nothing to be ashamed of. Once again, back to Ballydoyle. He then had a two month layoff prior to the Kentucky Derby and then it back to Ireland AGAIN. According to reports from the head travelling lad, the trip from Ireland to Belmont was 12 hours barn to barn. After a brief period in quarantine at nearby Aqueduct, Master of Hounds will van over the Belmont for a days worth of training over the track prior to raceday. The distance shouldn’t be a problem. He’s by a champion miler and his dam sire is the late great Sadler’s Wells. Watching his move in the Derby and the way he moves, gives every indication that he will indeed get the mile and a half. And the fact that Aidan O’Brien continues to ship this horse to America is a vote of confidence in his ability on dirt against our best sophomores. The Irish want to win another Classic and Master of Hounds very well could be the horse to do it for them. As for the others, Animal Kingdom validated himself with another big performance in the Preakness. He didn’t have to prove anything to me, but there were still critics out there, and I think he silenced them a few weeks ago. Let’s just hope those races didn’t take too much out of him. He didn’t seem to have the brilliance in the Preakness that we saw in the Derby. Then again, any Derby win is going to sparkle. Shackleford is also a serious racehorse but whereas the Preakness distance helped him a little, the Belmont distance will hurt him. I’m not convinced he can get the mile and a half but rest assured he will be sent from the outside gate and try to run them off their feet. And don’t be concerned if he gets warm before the race. He ALWAYS does that. A lot was made of his appearance before the Preakness, but truth be told he did the same thing before the Florida Derby and just held it together a little more than usual before the Kentucky Derby. Nehro is a horse that always gives you a thrill but still can’t quite get to the winners circle. Unfortunately I think Saturday will be another carbon copy of what we’ve seen from him in the past. Brilliant Speed will run big. Don’t let him get away at a price. He was my pick in the Derby and I feel even more strongly about his abilities in the Belmont.