Note: One of a series of profiles on contenders for the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 20. Updates will be provided after morning-line odds and post positions are set early next week.
By Margaret Ransom
A distant second to Charlatan in the first division of the Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2 could be an encouraging sign that Basin is coming around in time for the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 20.
As a promising 2-year-old, Basin won the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga last summer by 6 ½ lengths. But he was sidelined for the next six months with a right hind ankle injury, forcing Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen to reassess the colt’s future.
By March, Basin was back, but not completely. He ran third in the Rebel Stakes (G2), fourth in the Oaklawn Stakes, and then ran more aggressively in the Arkansas Derby to finish six lengths behind unbeaten Charlatan.
After Basin’s runner-up finish, Asmussen said “He was in hot pursuit the whole way. He hung in really well. Solid fractions. I thought Ricardo (Santana, Jr.) gave him every shot. He just finished second best.”
With Charlatan, along with Nadal and Maxfield, no longer in the Belmont picture, why not Basin? The Belmont is being run at 1 1/8 miles (same distance as the Arkansas Derby) rather than its usual 1 ½ miles and is the first leg of the Triple Crown after the rescheduling of races due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, Basin could be declared the winner of his division of the Arkansas Derby if Charlatan winds up being disqualified for a reported positive post-race drug test.
Asmussen has won the Belmont once before, with Creator in 2016.
Belmont Stakes Probable: Basin
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Owner: Jackpot Farm
Jockey: Richard Santana, Jr.
Career record: 6-2-2-1
Career earnings: $471,000
Pedigree: Liam’s Map–Appenzell, by Johannesburg
Running style: Stalker
“Tactical speed but no finishing punch; 0-for-3 around two turns; can’t recommend.’’ – Ed McNamara
“Has yet to deliver on the promise he showed last summer for Steve Asmussen with non-threatening losses in the Rebel, Oaklawn Stakes, and in the Arkansas Derby’s far softer division when well-beaten by Charlatan. Will need big improvement for anything more than a minor placing.’’ – Noel Michaels
Notes: Jackpot Farm is Terry Green of Houston, Texas, who owns the 200-acre Jackpot Ranch in Weatherford, Texas, where he owns and breeds elite cutting horses … Green also recently completed construction on Jackpot Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, to operate his thoroughbred operation … the name Jackpot Racing comes from Green’s primary business as he is the co-owner of Island View Casino in Gulfport, Mississippi, and was instrumental in promoting legislation in the early 1990s which allowed casino boats to operate while docked, the first legislation of its kind … Green paid $150,000 for Basin as a Keeneland September yearling and is his first Grade 1 winner.