Mike Repole figures having Stay Thirsty as a 20-1 longshot in the 143rd Belmont Stakes gives him an advantage considering the returns on the winners of the first two legs of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
Animal Kingdom paid $43.80 on a $2 bet when the 3-year-old colt won the Kentucky Derby, while Preakness Stakes champion Shackleford returned $27.20.
Monzon, owned by Under Armour Inc. founder Kevin Plank, and Isn’t He Perfect garnered the longest odds of 30-1 in the early morning line for today’s race at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Stay Thirsty and Ruler On Ice are 20-1, with Santiva, Brilliant Speed and Prime Cut at 15-1.
“In this race, I wouldn’t want to be the favorite,” Repole said after the televised post draw. “I’ll take my 20-1 odds and consider him the favorite.”
During the last century, the combined payouts for the winners of the Triple Crown races were as low as 60 cents to $1 when Count Fleet swept the series for the 1943 Triple Crown, and as high as a $95.85 return on a $1 bet in 1913, when Donerail, Buskin and Prince Eugene shared the titles. In 2002, the cumulative return was $93.55 when Sarava won the Belmont to deprive War Emblem of the Triple Crown.
Animal Kingdom, the runner-up in the Preakness, was installed as the 2-1 favorite in the Belmont. Nehro, the second-place finisher in the Derby, was made 4-1, followed by Shackleford at 9-2.
“This is an impossible race to handicap,” Repole, who decided to skip the Preakness with Stay Thirsty after the colt’s 12th-place finish in the Derby, said in a telephone interview. “Stay Thirsty has a home-track advantage.”
The Belmont, at 1 1/2 miles, is the longest race of the Triple Crown series, which started five weeks ago. Twelve horses are vying for the $600,000 winner’s purse.
“I’m going to bet on him, not only because I own the horse but this year unprecedented things have happened in every single race, so why bet on one of the favorites?” Repole said.
Repole, who co-founded Glaceau Vitaminwater sports drink before it was sold to Coca-Cola Co. for $4.1 billion in 2007, bought Stay Thirsty last year for $500,000. The colt is the stablemate of Uncle Mo, the 2-year-old Juvenile of the Year and favorite in the Kentucky Derby before trainer Todd Pletcher and Repole decided to scratch him because of illness.
Stay Thirsty is the great-grandson of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew and 1953 Preakness and Belmont champion Northern Dancer, and the son of 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini. He will sport silks in the orange and blue colors of Repole’s favorite baseball team, the New York Mets.
“If there is one race for a kid from Queens, New York, that’s the Belmont Stakes,” Repole said. “This is about enjoying the moment, having fun.”
PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds 1 Master of Hounds Garrett Gomez Aidan O’Brien 10-1 2 Stay Thirsty Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher 20-1 3 Ruler On Ice Jose Valdivia Jr. Kelly Breen 20-1 4 Santiva Shaun Bridgmohan Eddie Kenneally 15-1 5 Brilliant Speed Joel Rosario Tom Albertrani 15-1 6 Nehro Corey Nakatani Steve Asmussen 4-1 7 Monzon Jose Lezcano Ignacio Correas 30-1 8 Prime Cut Edgar Prado Neil Howard 15-1 9 Animal Kingdom John Velazquez Graham Motion 2-1 10 Mucho Macho Man Ramon Dominguez Kathy Ritvo 10-1 11 Isn’t He Perfect Rajiv Maragh D. Shivmangal 30-1 12 Shackleford Jesus Castanon Dale Romans 9-2