2018 Belmont Stakes Post-Positions and Odds

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June 5th 2018 – Updated June 6th 2018 11PM CST
Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes. The race will be aired live on NBC this coming Saturday around 5:37 PM CST.
One interesting factoid, three out of the last four Belmont Stakes winners (Tonalist, Creator and Tapwri) were sired by Tapit. This is why Hofburg is the second favorite, though I really think Vino Rosso is the 2nd most talented colt in this field behind Justify.

2018 Belmont Stakes Field

1) Justify (4/5) – The 2018 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner. He will attempt to become the 13th Triple Crown champion.


Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2001 & 2015 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2010 & 2013 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2018 Santa Anita Derby

2) Free Drop Billy (30/1) – The Dale Romans-trained Breeders’s Futurity winner. He had a disappointing 16th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. His entry in the Belmont Stakes will depend on how he trains this week. His sire, Union Rags, won the 2012 Belmont Stakes/


Career: 9 Starts 2-3-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>16th
Sire: Union Rags (Finished 1st in the 2012 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2018 Holy Bull Stakes

3) Bravazo (8/1) – The Risen Star Stakes winner had the best run of his career in the Preakness Stakes, finishing 2nd behind Justify by a half length. Trained by four time Belmont Stakes winner D. Wayne Lukas. Bravazo will be the 2nd favorite with bettors on Belmont Stakes day. H was coming like a runaway freight train in that last furlong in the Preakness Stakes and made the race interesting.


Career: 10 Starts 3-2-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>6th–>2nd
Sire: Awesome Again
Trainer: D.Wayne Lukas (1994, 1995, 1996 & 2000 Belmont Stakes.Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Luis Saez
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – 2018 Preakness Stakes

4) Hofburg (9/2) – After a 2nd place finish in the Florida Derby (shown below), Hofburg followed up this effort with a 7th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He has a former Belmont Stakes winning trainer and jockey in his corner.


Career: 4 Starts 1-1-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>7th
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: William Mott (2010 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr (2016 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Florida Derby

5) Restoring Hope (30/1) – Another new shooter who finished 3rd in the Wood Memorial (shown below). He had a disappointing effort in the sloppy Pat Day Mile, finishing 12th.


Career: 5 Starts 1-1-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>12th
Sire: Giant’s Causeway
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2001 & 2015 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 -2018 Wood Memorial

6) Gronkowski (12/1) – A European runner who is named after New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski. He is now being trained by Chad Brown. Gronkowski has primarily raced on synthetic or turf surfaces and has never raced longer than a mile. So he appears to be a better fit for the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes day.


Career: 6 Starts 4-1-0-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st-->1st
Sire: Lonhro
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz (2017 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

7) Tenfold (12/1) – The Steve Asmussen-trained colt finished 5th in the Arkansas Derby and had a surprising 3rd place finish in the Preakness Stakes.


Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>3rd
Sire: Curlin (Finished 2nd in the 2007 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2016 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Preakness Stakes

8) Vino Rosso (8/1) – The Wood Memorial winner. He finished 9th in the Kentucky Derby. He has a proven Belmont Stakes winning trainer and jockey behind him.


Career: 6 Starts 3-0-1-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>9th
Sire: Curlin (Finished 2nd in the 2007 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2007, 2013 & 2017 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velasquez (2007 and 2012 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2018 Wood Memorial

9) Noble Indy (30/1) – The surprise winner of the 2018 Louisiana Derby winner. He bombed in the sloppy Kentucky Derby with a 17th place finish. Trained by Todd Pletcher who is one of the best at preparing 3-year-old colts for the mile and a half.


Career: 5 Starts 3-0-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>17th
Sire: Take Charge Indy
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2007, 2013 & 2017 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

10) Blended Citizen (15/1) – A new shooter. He is coming off a win in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. So you know he likes track surface. He finished 5th in the Blue Grass Stakes.


Career: 10 Starts 3-0-2-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Proud Citizen (Finished 5th in the 2002 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Kyle Frey
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2018 Peter Pan Stakes


On the docket…

My next blog will provide race analysis. I will also have an article for US Racing on Justify’s chances of winning the Triple Crown.
–Michael

Why Justify will become the 13th Triple Crown Champion

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May 24th 2018

I am working on my next US Racing article “Why Justify will become the 13th Triple Crown Champion

There has only been one undefeated Triple Crown contender–Seattle Slew–who won the Triple Crown. Justify is the great-great-great grandson of Seattle Slew on his dam’s side. Seattle Slew is the only undefeated Triple Crown contender entering the Belmont Stakes who pulled it off (see below).

Stay tuned!
–Michael Cox

Triple Crown contenders entering the Belmont Stakes. How many were there? And how they fared

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May 22nd 2018

I was curious and did some more research today that I think many of my readers might be interested in. My curiosity was: How many Triple Crown contenders entered the Belmont Stakes undefeated?

With Justify’s win in the Preakness Stakes, he became only the 5th Triple Crown contender in history entering the Belmont Stakes undefeated. Here are the five horses and their outcome in the Belmont Stakes.

1969 – Majestic Prince – 2nd (lost by 5 1/2 lengths) – He had won 9 straight races
1977 – Seattle Slew – 1st (won by 4 lengths) – He had won 8 straight races and made it 9
2004 – Smarty Jones – 2nd (lost by 1 length) – He had won 8 straight races.
2008 – Big Brown – 9th -Did Not Finish – He had won 5 straight races.
2018 – Justify – ? – He is on a 5 race winning streak.

Justify attempts to become only the 2nd horse ever since Seattle Slew to win the Triple Crown undefeated.

–Michael

Justify’s Triple Crown Odds

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May 21st 2018

With the 143rd Preakness Stakes now in the books, my focus will be on potential entries and Justify’s odds of pulling off the Triple Crown. Currently, it appears that he has even 1:1 odds which equates to a 50% chance. I think that is about right until we know for certain who is going to be entered.

First the good news, Justify came out of the Preakness in fine shape according to Trainer Bob Baffert. 

In Justify’s corner, he has one of the best trainers in the world who has won a Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharoah. Plus he is ridden by one of the top jockeys in the world as well in Mike Smith. Both Baffert and Smith have both won the Belmont Stakes twice during their career.

Thus far, it appears that Justify’s competition for the Belmont Stakes will be: Bravazo, Tenfold, Blended Citizen, Hofburg, Vino Rosso and possibly My Boy Jack, Free Drop Billy, Solomini and Audible. The latter is probably doubtful since Audible has the same ownership group (WinStar Farm/China Horse Club) as Justify. Common sense says you don’t try to beat yourself out of a Triple Crown. And the Florida Derby winner Audible is a talented colt who hit the board in the Kentucky Derby.

Winning the Belmont Stakes will be much more difficult than winning the Preakness Stakes as this potential field is much more talented and perhaps better suited for the Mile and a Half at Belmont Park than the Preakness Stakes field had against Justify cutting back a bit on distance in similar sloppy conditions as the Derby.

Bravazo had an impressive late run in the Preakness. You sort of got the feeling that if the Preakness would have been 10 furlongs instead of 9 1/2, Bravazo would have won beaten Justify to the wire. However, if the Preakness Stakes had been run on a dry, fast track, I don’t think this race would have been this close.

Interesting is the fact that despite a Preakness Stakes time (1:55.93) that was faster than American Pharoah’s (1:58.46) and Exaggerator’s (1:58.31) sloppy Preakness Stakes times, Justify only received a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. Justify’s closing speed time from the 3/4th mile mark was also faster in the Preakness Stakes than the Kentucky Derby. However, Pimlico’s track runs a bit faster in sloppy conditions than Churchill Downs.

Stay tuned, I will be monitoring this closely and will provide updates periodically. Since there are 3 weeks between the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, news comes a little slower but I expect to know more by next Monday.

–Michael

Triple Crown Fever – Justified

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May 15th 2018

As Yogi Berra would say, “It feels like deja vu all over again.” I just got this feeling about Justify that he may be another Bob Baffert-trained Triple Crown winner. I write about it in my latest article for US RacingTriple Crown Fever: Why Justify Could Become The 13th Triple Crown Champion.” 

My next blog will preview the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes which I should have out tomorrow evening.

–Michael

Nyquist Still Unbeaten! Back to back Triple Crown Winners? A real legitimate possibility

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May 7th, 2016

GET EXCITED horse racing fans! We had a blast last year watching American Pharoah win a Triple Crown and then the very first Grand Slam of thoroughbred racing with his win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Nyquist’s winning time in the Kentucky Derby of 2:01.31 (shown below) was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 2:03.02 and the fastest since Funny Cide’s winning time of 2:01.19 in 2003. The opening fractions were fast which set up the race well for closers but Nyquist was simply too strong to beat.

We had back to back Triple Crown winners in the 1970s with Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. Can lightning strike twice like it did in the 1970s?

It is a real, legitimate possibility. Remember that I correctly identified Nyquist as the Kentucky Derby favorite 241 days ago in this blog. And I had 1st and 2nd place Kentucky Derby finishers ranked 1-2 in my last Kentucky Derby Contenders blog.

How well did Nyquist run in the Kentucky Derby? He earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Last year, American Pharoah received a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his Kentucky Derby win. But the revealing fact is that Nyquist would have beaten the 2015 Kentucky Derby version of American Pharoah by 5 1/4 lengths when you look at the final quarter mile fractions. The pace was faster this year than last (2015: 23.24, 47.34, 1:11.29 & 1:36.45 vs 2016: 22.58, 45.72, 1:10.40 & 1:35.61). Nyquist should have been a little more tired having gone through a mile 0.84 seconds faster than American Pharoah had to in 2015. But the final 1/4th mile fraction of this year’s Kentucky Derby was 25.70 vs last year’s time of 26.57. That is 0.87 seconds faster for Nyquist which equates to at least 5 1/4 lengths.

It is time to get REAL excited again. Nyquist has a better resume thus far than American Pharoah. The Preakness Stakes will be another difficult test but I am confident that Nyquist can handle the competition.

So now I leave you with the #1 hit in 1978–Andy Gibb’s Shadow Dancing–the last year we had back-to-back Triple Crown winners. It is time to get dancing again! Nyquist will undoubtedably be in the shadow of American Pharoah but that is a very good shadow to be in.

–Michael