Belmont Stakes 2011: 5 Horses with Real Chance to Win

Melissa Bauer-Herzog@mbauerherzogCorrespondent IJune 1, 2011

Belmont Stakes 2011: 5 Horses with Real Chance to Win

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    ELMONT, NY - JUNE 05:  The horses break out of the starting gate at the running of the 142nd Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 5, 2010 in Elmont, New York.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    With no Triple Crown on the line, the Belmont States is the red-headed stepchild of the Crown this year. Even with the Triple Crown drought lasting another year, the Belmont Stakes looks to be one of the most exciting 3-year-old races of the year up to this point.

    In addition to multiple new shooters and those that skipped the Preakness Stakes, it looks like we will have a rematch between the Derby and Preakness winners on June 12.

    What five horses have a real chance to win the Belmont? Follow me as we take a look at them.

No. 1: Animal Kingdom

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    BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 21:  Animal Kingdom and jocky John Velazquez #11 in the post parade before the start of the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 21, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The Kentucky Derby winner's biggest challenge in the Triple Crown was the short Preakness, and the distance did seem to be his undoing.

    Animal Kingdom is bred to go long and didn't show any distance limitation in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby, suggesting he should be able to successfully get the Belmont distance.

    While Shackleford got the best of Animal Kingdom in the Preakness, I don't think the winner of the second jewel can even touch Animal Kingdom here.

No. 2: Master of Hounds

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05:  Master of Hounds trains during the morning exercise session in preparation for the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    It is not confirmed if the colt is going to fly back over from Europe yet, but if he does run, watch for him to be a contender.

    Many threw out the horse in the Kentucky Derby after a lot of traveling, as well as his turf pedigree, but he finished fifth and is bred to be a router.

    The biggest question he should have is if all the traveling he's done in the last seven months, especially since March, will catch up with him.

No. 3: Nehro

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05:  Nehro is lead on to the track in preparation for the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Nehro finished second in the Kentucky Derby but skipped the Preakness to enter this race fresh. There's no question he's bred (by AP Indy's son, Mineshaft) to go long, and many people are high on his chances.

    He was gaining positions at the end of the Derby, and it looked like the Derby distance wasn't an issue. The major question will be if he can outlast Animal Kingdom.

No. 4: Mucho Macho Man

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    BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 20:  Exercise rider Heriberto Pulgar takes Preakness entrant Mucho Macho Man over the track at Pimlico Race Course on May 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The 136th running of the Preakness Stakes will take place on May 21.   (Photo by
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Mucho Macho Man had an excuse for his poor showing in the Preakness (lost a shoe) after finishing third in the Kentucky Derby and comes back for another try at a Classic win in the Belmont.

    The 3-year-old technically won't turn 3 until three days after the Belmont (although officially all thoroughbreds turn 3 Jan. 1), giving him tons of room to improve in the summer races.

    While the colt is younger than his rivals, he could jump up to the test of the Belmont and pull a surprise upset over the field as he continues to gear up for what looks like will be an awesome summer and fall campaign.

No. 5: Stay Thirsty

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    Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog
    Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog

    He is Repole's last hope at having a Belmont runner and still hasn't totally matured, but Stay Thirsty could be one of the surprise victors in this race.

    Stay Thirsty has endurance on his side with sire Bernardini winning multiple times at longer distances, and his half brother Andromedas Hero (Fusaichi Pegasus) finished second in the Belmont in 2005. While Stay Thirsty hasn't shown a massive amount of speed yet in his career, his sire didn't step up to stakes competition until the Preakness, which he won (Bernardini did not race as a 2-year-old).

    This may be the do-or-die moment for Stay Thirsty when it comes to high-level stakes, but with his bloodlines and hopefully coming maturity, it would not be a surprise to see him in the winner's circle at Belmont.