We are set for the final leg of the Triple Crown and at the time of writing we still had eight equine warriors due to take their place in the most grueling of the three Triple Crown races, the Belmont Stakes, run over a mile and a half.
We won’t have the Preakness winner as Early Voting will not be entered, but we do have the shock winner of the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike, who won the Run for the Roses at 80/1, becoming the second-longest priced winner in the history of the race.
The horse went back into serious work ahead of the Belmont and reports from the track seem to show him ready to roll.
Track conditions at Belmont have not been ideal and the wet track has meant some trainers were waiting to do their last serious pieces of work.
Belmont Stakes Betting Favorite
We looked at the main contenders in our Belmont Stakes contenders piece last week and now we are narrowing down the field to our top three picks plus one of the outsiders that could serve it up to the main players on the boards.
Our main Belmont Stakes pick is Mo Donegal, who finished fifth behind Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby.
It looks like we will have a field of eight runners for the big race and the key issue for some of these horses is the pace of the race. The likes of Mo Donegal, Rich Strike and Creative Minister would all enjoy a strong pace to close into.
The Kentucky Derby proved that both Mo Donegal and Rich Strike have the staying power for the Belmont and the recent Preakness Stakes showed that Creative Minister likely has the stamina as well.
Of the horses we did not see in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness Stakes, We The People is the one that is attracting money on the boards and he is chalked up as the favorite ahead of Mo Donegal.
Mo Donegal +250 (5/2)
The line of form that stands out on this one’s CV is the win in the Wood Memorial when he was way back but closed in the stretch to nail Early Voting on the wire. That form might not have looked anything special then, but it does now with Early Voting going on to win the Preakness Stakes.
Anybody who saw Mo Donegal bobble at the start of the Derby will know how unlucky the horse was. He had to go wide in the 5 and 6 lane at the top of the stretch and got in a bumping match with Barber Road. He closed all the way to the wire and the extra quarter of a mile is a big plus.
Rich Strike +400 (4/1)
The Eric Reed-trained chestnut will be the focus of attention in the run-up to the Belmont Stakes, and on race day as well. It’s been many years since we saw such a stretch run to win one of the Triple Crown legs like we did by Reed’s horse in the Derby.
The question is was it a fluke or can he back it up here?
Connections look to have made the right decision, sticking with the horse’s normal training pattern of racing once every five to six weeks, and that decision could pay off.
Rich Strike had not really set the world alight on his runs before the Kentucky Derby, so there are question marks. One thing we can be sure of is his ability to handle the distance and if we get a strong pace from Skippylongstocking and possibly We The People (went gate to wire last time), then Rich Strike’s stamina is sure to kick in.
He has proved his class and it’s very difficult to see him not hitting the board here.
Creative Minister +650 (13/2)
Kenny McPeek’s horse has not stopped improving and his third in the Preakness Stakes was a personal best. He’d previously had problems at the gate, bobbling his start a couple of times, and he was much closer to the pace here.
Sliding underneath at the 3/8ths pole, he stalked Armagnac and Early Voting into the stretch, but while Early Voting and Epicenter (the favorite) quickened off the slow early speed, Creative Minister was momentarily outsped before a late rally saw him make a strong close right to the wire.
He looks like another who will enjoy the extra quarter of a mile, and if track conditions remain wet up until Saturday, then he will have no problems, having already won on the slop.
Belmont Stakes Best Bet
The best form in the race is held by Rich Strike, but the way the Kentucky Derby played out meant that Mo Donegal had a much tougher run through to the stretch, and given he is the only horse to have beaten Early Voting, he gets the vote.
The race should set up well for him from a pace angle with Skippylongstocking and We The People looking to go gate to wire.
He bobbled badly from the gate in the Derby and with a clean break and this smaller field, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. should be able to adopt a nice stalking position and stay out of trouble.
It is not going to be easy to beat Rich Strike, but the race setup with the smaller field will play to his strengths, as you can see when he beat Early Voting in the Wood Memorial.
We expect to see the same tactics adopted here and he can turn that Kentucky Derby form around.
Wagering On the Belmont Stakes
Belmont Stakes Pick To Win
Mo Donegal is going to be a tough rival for all, although short at around +250 (5/2) on the boards. The chalk looks tailor-made for the stamina leg of the Triple Crown and his defeat of Early Voting gives him the edge.
Belmont Across The Board Bet
We have selected Golden Glider as our most interesting long shot and backing him win/place/show across the board could see a nice return at odds of +2500 (25/1).
Belmont Stakes Exotics
In the exotics, the key horse has to be Rich Strike. It looks impossible to keep him off the board and placing him in a mix of bets with Mo Donegal and Creative Minister could pay dividends.
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Horse Racing News
Odds Shark Staff Fri, Jun 10, 8:35amHorse Racing