The 154th running of the Belmont Stakes will take place this weekend at Belmont Park on the famously spacious 1 1/2 mile, oval dirt track. It will go as Race #11 at approximately 6:44 pm. Although there is no chance of a Triple Crown this year and a relatively short field of just eight runners, there are some intriguing angles to pursue. Here is a look at Contenders, Pretenders, and a Live Longshot. And don't miss my Belmont Stakes Winner, as I look to cash each leg of the Triple Crown this season (after winning on Epicenter to place in the Kentucky Derby (paid $7.40), and Early Voting to win in the Preakness (paid $13.40)).
#6 - Mo Donegal. Simply put, Todd Pletcher loves Belmont Park and loves the Belmont Stakes. He has won this race three times, each with a very different type of horse. His first win was with a filly (Rags to Riches) and Pletcher is trying that angle again today with Nest. But the most talented and accomplished runner in the race is his 3YO colt by Uncle Mo, Mo Donegal. Mo Donegal ran all but one of his Kentucky Derby tune-ups in New York, including two races here at Belmont. His final tune-up for Kentucky was a victory at Aqueduct Park in the Wood Memorial. But Mo Donegal lost all chance at being adorned with the blanket of roses when he drew the rail position (#1) for the Derby. Still, despite that and a hellish trip in the race, Mo Donegal rallied to finish a very strong 5th out of 20 runners. Another run like that could easily win this race. Being a closer, the only question is whether he will have enough pace to run into. But the 12-furlong distance should play right into his hands if the front runners are tiring turning for home. His class alone could easily get Pletcher his fourth Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
#1 - We the People. Not a name familiar to those who have been following the Triple Crown series, We the People skipped both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (he didn't have enough qualifying points to run in Kentucky). But the son of Constitution has been impressive in most of his races and his 10-length victory right here at Belmont Park in the Peter Pan Stakes a week before the Preakness indicated that he was ready to take this logical next step. And We the People has one thing that almost none of the other runners have: Controlling Speed. We the People could find himself alone on the front end on Saturday and if that happens, he could be very hard to run down. The fact that he drew the #1 post position is icing on the cake for that type of running style. Rudolphe Brisset is not a household name like Todd Pletcher or Bob Baffert, but he is a talented trainer whose time finally might have come.
#4 - Rich Strike. Just about everyone other than the connections of the horses he beat loves the rags-to-riches story of Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby. Like Mine That Bird, they will probably make a movie about his accomplishment on the first Saturday in May one day. In a rare and calculated move, the owners and trainer Eric Reed decided to skip the Preakness and instead point to this race. You would think that the way he closed at 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs, Rich Strike is going to LOVE the 12 furlongs here today. But there were 19 other horses beating each other's brains out in the Derby and that's not going to be the case today. Plus, we're still talking about a former $30,000 claimer which, if he came in here not having won the Derby, would be at least 20-1 in this spot. So at 7-2, 4-1, or 5-1 even, Rich Strike is a horrible bet in the Belmont. We wouldn't even bet him to hit the board or in the bottom of a trifecta against this group.
# 3 - Nest. As we said earlier, Todd Pletcher has won this race before with a filly. That was 2007 with the brilliant Rags to Riches, and no filly has won the Belmont Stakes since. Nest is a very nice horse, but she is no Rags to Riches or Rachel Alexandra. She probably doesn't belong here, but you can't blame the connections for trying. The daughter of Curlin was soundly beaten by Secret Oath in the Kentucky Oaks and that filly could finish no better than fourth in the Preakness. She might be playable in the back end of the Trifecta, but that's about it
#7 - Golden Glider. This Mark Casse-trained son of Ghostzapper offers bettors an intriguing alternative for their exactas and trifectas. Golden Glider's last race was here at Belmont Park in the Peter Pan. Nobody was going to catch We the People that day, but Golden Glider finished second and was the only horse making up ground at the end of the nine furlongs. Another 3/8 mile might just be enough to narrow that gap to the point where Golden Glider is giving We the People all he can handle. Golden Glider is 20-1 on the morning line and he just might go off at that price as nobody is talking about this horse or giving him any chance on Saturday. Dylan Davis gets the mount on Golden Glider and there's no track in the country where having a local rider who's familiar with the oval is more critical than Belmont Park. Keep an eye on his odds to see if any late money is coming in and wager accordingly.
Good luck, as always...