It’s time for my Belmont Stakes preview! Guys, if you followed my advice, you would have won money on both the Derby and Preakness so far this year. So now let’s take a look at the Belmont Stakes.
As always, let’s start with the race details:
The horses for the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes are listed in order of post position. The morning-line odds were set by David Aragona of the New York Racing Association.
Purse: $1.5 million guaranteed Distance: One and a half miles Track record: 2:24 (Secretariat, 1973) Weight: 126 pounds Post time: Saturday at 6:37 p.m. Eastern How to watch: NBC has the broadcast, beginning at 4. NBC Sports Network coverage runs beforehand from 2 to 4.
Coverage will also be streamed on NBC Sports Live.
Here’s how we see the field:
1. Justify Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: Mike Smith Odds: 4-5
2. Free Drop Billy Trainer: Dale Romans Jockey: Robby Albarado Odds: 30-1
3. Bravazo Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas Jockey: Luis Saez Odds: 8-1
4. Hofburg Trainer: Bill Mott Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 9-2
This race is a very interesting one to try and predict. Sadly, we might see rain, which would mean every single triple crown race featured rain this year. It's expected to be a high of 73 degrees in Elmont, N.Y., for a cloudy race day, dropping to around 70 degrees at post time. There's a 42-percent chance of scattered showers a few hours before the race starts, but it should be a cool, dry track for Justify and its golden opportunity.
Let’s talk about Gronkowski for a second. And yes he is named after All-Pro New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski is big and strong like its namesake, and he ran well in the Belmont tuneup. It has won four consecutive races in England, including the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Skipping the first two Triple Crown races should give Gronkowski plenty of juice for a powerful run.
Hofburg is another worth considering, as he skipped the Preakness to focus on the showpiece race at Belmont Park. He was a distant seventh in the Kentucky Derby, yet his trainer Bill Mott said the horse "seemed to have a lot left" after running at Churchill Downs.
I’m going to consider the favorite, Justify, despite some bad numbers:
Belmont favorites have won just six of the last 32 editions. By comparison, nine Derby favorites and 13 Preakness favorites won during that span.
My upset watch is Vino Rosso. If he could get back to his Wood Memorial level [a race he won by three expanding lengths he would have a good chance. I’ll give him a pass in the Derby, where he finished 10 lengths behind Justify.
However, I really like Justify to get it done and win the Triple Crown. He is trained by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert who also won the Triple Crown with American Pharaoh in 2015. Baffert knows this track extremely well and will definitely have Justify prepared to run a great race.
I’m picking Justify to win it. Then I really, really like Gronkowski to be in the mix, as well as Hofburg and Vino Rosso who has favorable odds at 8-1. I’m staying away from Bravazo and giving one of these other horses a shot. Gronk has favorable odds at 12-1, but I expect those to move higher by race time.
Give me Justify to win, with Gronk, Vino, and Hofburg in the mix down the stretch. Therefore…
My exacta pick will be the following:
1 (Justify) OVER 4 (Hofburg), 6 (Gronkowski), and 8 (Vino Rosso)