Bob Ehalt and Tom Pedulla became fast friends when they met on their first day at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx, New York, in 1971. Bob soon introduced Tom to the joys of Thoroughbred racing.
They have endured some rough moments at the track, with Tom taking exception when Bob repeatedly smacks him on the back with a program as one of their horses launches an all-out drive. Much to Tom’s chagrin and the amusement of onlookers, Bob has been known to call for security as he proceeds to cash a $27 triple.
They have owned a number of horses together. They are often seen carrying on at the track as if they never left their teenage years.
Here is their take on the 151st Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets:
PEDULLA: Bob, as much as I tried to avoid the chalk, as much as I would like to land on a horse other than Tacitus, I keep coming back to him. You have to like the way he closed in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, where he was placed third through disqualification. He is trained by Bill Mott, and we’ve cashed our share of tickets on that Hall of Famer. He is by Tapit, who has a knack for siring Belmont winners, and he’s trained well while skipping the Preakness Stakes. I find it hard to go in another direction in a field short on star power.
EHALT: When you’re right, you’re right, Thomas. And if you’re right, we’re right. Right? Have to agree with you here. Tacitus has plenty of talent and the kind of pedigree that bodes well for him at a mile-and-a-half distance. He should benefit from five weeks of rest and figures to handle a top-heavy field that features two standouts and a cavalry charge for third. This time Bill Mott will get a Triple Crown victory in the conventional manner: With his horse crossing the finish line first.
PEDULLA: I had little regard for Master Fencer before the Derby. I have a lot more respect for him now. Despite a poor start, he rallied to be placed sixth when the roses were taken away from Maximum Security for interference. He has had more time to acclimate to the U.S. since then. I expect Julien Leparoux to give him a patient ride and that he will be one of the few horses still running hard at the end of the mile-and-a-half Belmont as he passes a bunch of rubber-legged foes.
EHALT: Excuse me while I choke on some chalk dust, but I see this as a two-horse race between Tacitus and War of Will, the two favorites. War of Will’s victory in the Preakness was a reminder of how good he was in the winter before that fiasco in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby. Would not be surprised if he wins, but I give Tacitus an edge because of the rest while War of Will danced all of the dances at the Triple Crown ball.
PEDULLA: Todd Pletcher sure knows how to get them ready for the Belmont. He is a three-time winner of the marathon, including success with the filly Rags to Riches in a heck of a duel with Curlin in 2007 that I doubt each of us will ever forget. I like it that Intrepid Heart is trained by Pletcher, is sired by Tapit, and will be ridden by John Velazquez, Pletcher’s go-to rider. Johnny V knows this “Big Sandy” racetrack better than anyone.
EHALT: I’ll borrow one from your playbook. Master Fencer’s stretch run in the Kentucky Derby was eye-catching and he should relish the mile-and-a-half distance. My main concern is that he can be sluggish in the early part of races and closing from last is not the way to win the Belmont Stakes.
PEDULLA: Spinoff has been well regarded by Pletcher and his team since last summer. I am willing to excuse his 18th-place finish in the Derby as a product of his first race on a sloppy track. Pletcher has had time since the Derby to regroup with him. He’s been dangerous in these situations before. If anyone is looking for a live longshot, do not overlook Spinoff.
EHALT: Sounds right to me, though I believe Spinoff is the better half of Pletcher’s two starters. The word is that Spinoff loathed the wet track in the Kentucky Derby and didn’t fire. His sharp recent workouts tell a more gripping tale about his abilities and there’s certainly the possibility that he could give Pletcher his fourth Belmont Stakes victory. Not sure if I want to bet on that – unless the odds are huge – but backing him in the trifecta or superfecta certainly seems like the right way to close out a 2019 Triple Crown season that should be a source of debates for decades to come.