Last week I did a preliminary Fair Odds line for the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, but after further research and the post-position draw here is my final rendition:
#1 Justify (Even money) – The undefeated dual Classic winner obviously has a ton going for him, including tactical speed that allows him to make the lead or stalk just off the early pace. However, regressing numbers since a career best 114 BRIS speed rating in the Santa Anita Derby and an arduous three and a half months since breaking his maiden on February 18th could take its toll on the son of Scat Daddy. Hard to take less than even money.
#2 Free Drop Billy (250-1) – I thought this Union Rags colt had a shot to be one of the better three-year-olds in the country coming into the year, but he has not moved forward at all in his three-year-old season. A complete outsider.
#3 Bravazo (19-1) – This Calumet Farm homebred is the only runner outside of Justify to compete in all three legs of the 2018 Triple Crown. He enters the Belmont in solid form after a 97 BRIS speed rating in the Preakness where he missed by just half a length. I give him a significant chance to hit the board again, but expect there to be at least one horse better than him on Saturday.
#4 Hofburg (7-1) – The second choice on the morning line has the look of a horse that should not struggle with the added ground, but his running style has not been successful in most renditions of the Belmont Stakes. He has as good a shot as anyone if Justify fails to fire or tires in the lane, but his price on the tote board is almost certain to be too short for me.
#5 Restoring Hope (50-1) – The “other Baffert” has been a major disappointment after being considered one of the Hall of Famer’s best shots for the Derby before Justify came on the scene. Expect him to be prominent early, but if he hit the board it would be a major accomplishment for owners Gary and Mary West.
#6 Gronkowski (32-1) – I originally gave this colt no chance in the Belmont, but counting out Chad Brown in New York is probably not wise. The son of Lonhro gets Lasix for his initial try in the States and attracts the services of Jose Ortiz. Likely to be over bet based on his name.
#7 Tenfold (7-1) – This lightly raced colt ran huge in the Preakness after a dull effort in the Arkansas Derby in mid-April. The son of Curlin has trained very well at Churchill over the past couple of weeks and trainer Steve Asmussen has been rolling of late. A move forward off of his effort in Baltimore and he can give Justify a big run for his money on Saturday.
#8 Vino Rosso (19-1) – One of two colts entered for trainer Todd Pletcher should have no problem with the added ground, but the question is whether he is good enough. His performance two-back in the Wood Memorial puts him “in the mix” here, but an underneath effort seems like best case for the $410,000 Keeneland September 2016 purchase.
#9 Noble Indy (15-1) – The second Pletcher trainee failed to do much running in the slop at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, but I expect him to run much better in New York. Pletcher removes the blinkers and legs up jockey Javier Castellano. He should be involved early and has a shot to spring the big upset if they get into a tussle late like he did in the Louisiana Derby in late March.
#10 Blended Citizen (30-1) – The winner of the Peter Pan on May 12th looks like he can run all day, but is too slow for this group. His best though could land him a minor share.