After two fantastic races in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, we now head toward the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Of course, we have no contender for the title with Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike being saved for this final leg, the Belmont Stakes, which takes place at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 11.

Rich Strike will come in and try to prove his 80/1 shock in the Kentucky Derby was no fluke and he’ll need to come here at the top of his game, something trainer Eric Reed has tried to accommodate by skipping the Preakness.

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He is planning to ship to New York around 10 days before the Belmont.

Belmont Stakes Horses: Top Contenders

We look set to have a field of 11 go to post, so let’s check out the main contenders plus some of the horses that are coming in under the radar.

Rich Strike +450 (9/2)

With that lung-bursting stretch run at Churchill Downs, Rich Strike became the second-longest priced winner of the race at 80/1. He was angled in from a wide draw after the start and trailed at the back of the field before making his move at the top of the backstretch.

Jockey Sonny Leon took plenty of risks, first going outside and then moving inside to find a gap on the rail from where he rallied and got up close to the wire.

It is worth looking at the overhead view of the race as he did not get hampered or balked like some of his other rivals and may find it much tougher this time around even in this smaller field.

He’ll certainly enjoy the mile and a half, but so will some of his Belmont foes.

Mo Donegal +225 (9/4)

The Todd Pletcher-trained Mo Donegal finished fifth behind Rich Strike at Churchill but we need to look at his run very closely. The Wood Memorial winner had a great draw but bobbled at the start and was hampered early before jockey Irad Ortiz had to ride hard to get a position coming out of the clubhouse turn.

He settled near the rear on the inside of Rich Strike but had to go wide in the 6 lane to launch his stretch run effort along with sixth-placed Barber Road. Those two got into a bumping match and Mo Donegal closed very late and may be considered an unlucky loser.

It’s important to note he mowed down Preakness winner Early Voting late in the Wood Memorial.

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Creative Minister +650 (13/2)

We picked out Creative Minister as a horse of huge potential in our preview of the Preakness Stakes and he ran a mighty race to finish in the show position in just his fourth career start.

He broke much better there and although he made a bid at the top of the stretch, both Early Voting and Epicenter had too much speed over the shorter distance.

The stretch out to a mile and a half in the Belmont should suit the son of Creative Cause and he’ll be a tough foe for Rich Strike and the others.

We The People +350 (7/2)

He looks like the second favorite behind likely chalk Mo Donegal and won wire to wire in the recent Peter Pan over 1⅛ miles at Belmont. 

That performance gained a 103 Beyer speed figure which is the best in the race and at likely odds of +400 (4/1) this son of Constitution could well be the one to be on the speed.

His Beyer figure tells us he is good but he has not been in this deep and it remains to be seen if he can mix it with some of these proven Grade 1 performers.

The Triple Crown Newcomers

We already have some of the established three-year-olds from the Triple Crown season taking their places here (Rich Strike, Mo Donegal, Barber Road, Creative Minister and Skippylongstocking).

But what about the new kids on the block?

We have already mentioned We The People, but what about some others who will likely be long shots on the day.

Nest +850 (17/2)

Master trainer Pletcher, who also trains Mo Donegal, has this filly, who finished runner-up in the recent Kentucky Oaks in his barn. She was a Grade 1 winner in the Ashland and then finished behind Secret Oath (fourth in the Preakness) in the Kentucky Oaks and the question is if she can handle the step up against colts.

Both of Pletcher’s horses worked well over the Belmont track recently, so it is just a matter of time and waiting for Pletcher to make a final decision on the filly.

Ethereal Road +1000 (10/1)

The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Ethereal Road was the horse that was pulled out of the Kentucky Derby late that allowed the participation of Rich Strike.

He came back to the track at Pimlico on Preakness Day and was made a favorite for the Grade 3 Sir Barton Stakes. He stalked the early speed before moving three wide in the lane and showing a fine burst of speed in the stretch to win in hand.

It would be pretty ironic if he can come in here and beat Rich Strike, the horse who took advantage of his withdrawal from the Kentucky Derby.

Howling Time +2500 (25/1)

The Dale Romans colt won an optional claimer at Churchill Downs last time and this is a big step up the class ladder for this son of Not This Time.

Howling Time was a winner of his first two starts, including an in-hand mauling of his foes in the Street Sense Stakes last year.

This year he has found it tough against other graded stakes contenders but the win last time when winning in hand against Rattle n Roll is strong form.

It was interesting that it came on the slop, and if track conditions are wet on Belmont Stakes day, then don’t rule out a big run from this likely long shot.