It’s been an up and down year for my Triple Crown selections. I was a bust in the Derby with Audible and there was no denying Justify in the Preakness. While Justify was short odds, I did manage to make some money on him though.
Last year, made a killing on the Belmont Stakes with Tapwrit. I am looking to continue that trend in a race that looks to offer plenty of value.
As I remind myself (and you) every year, the Belmont Stakes is one of the toughest races to handicap. Horses are being asked to go two or more furlongs farther than they have ever gone before. For some entrants, they are trying a fast track around two turns for the first time. These three year olds are developing and maturing each day and many are more likely to improve than regress here. While pedigree seems to be playing less and less into the winners of the longer races for these young horses, you can’t simply ignore it. One of these horses will win.
Rather than get into great detail on the pace of this race, you can see my pace analysis video exclusively at US Racing which will be posted on my author page on Friday.
So let’s get down to business and see if the number 13 is a lucky number for Justify as he looks to become the 13th horse to win the coveted Triple Crown.
Above you can see my figures and assessment for the field.
4 Hofburg (9-2) – He is sired by Tapit who has had his progeny win three of the last four Belmont Stakes (Tonalist 2014, Creator 2016, and Tapwrit 2017). He is bred for the distance and had an abysmal trip in the Kentucky Derby (brushed at the start and steadied twice). He faced a hot pace in the Florida Derby (half mile in 46.1s, ¾ mile in 1:11.3s) and will relish the seemingly pedestrian projected half mile of 47.3s and ¾ mile of 1:12.3s. I expect a big improvement in this colt here.
8 Vino Rosso (8-1) – This son of Curlin never really had a shot in the Derby but looks to improve with the faster than average projected pace here. He is the stronger Pletcher entry of the two, so expect Noble Indy to be his “rabbit” and help push the pace to his liking.
7 Tenfold (12-1) – He really impressed me in the Preakness despite a troubled trip. He had a lackluster prep in the Arkansas Derby, but seems to be rounding into form and can be expected to move forward here. He is the second Curlin colt in this race (Vino Rosso) and does have Tapit as his dam-sire. I expect a strong race – it was a tough decision between him and Vino Rosso for my second and third selections.
3 Bravazo (8-1) – Off of a gutsy performance almost catching Justify in the Preakness and finishing respectably in the Derby after a troubled trip while being forced W-I-D-E makes me think he could out run his pedigree. The ability to stalk and press the pace gives him some versatility and he should find the pace to be fairly comfortable.
1 Justify (4-5) – The horse to beat. Undefeated. Trying to be Lucky #13. He has had a great run. First horse since Apollo in 1882 to with the Kentucky Derby without starting as a two-year old. Bob Baffert produces contenders. Mike Smith rides winners. I think his form is starting to move off of peak and his pedigree isn’t suggesting he has the stamina to make it 12 furlongs. I wanted to like him in this spot, but think he is vulnerable. I think he has a solid shot of hitting your exotics, but just not making history.
Potential for Value: High (vulnerable favorite)
Confidence: Moderate (My most probable pace scenario is only at 30% likelihood)
So what am I toying with playing?
Win/Place/Show – 4
Small Exacta – 4,7,8 with 1,3,4,7,8
Small Trifecta – 4,7,8 with 3,4,7,8 with 1,3,4,6,7,8
Small Superfecta – 4,7,8 with 3,4,7,8 with 1,3,4,6,7,8 with 1,3,4,6,7,8,10
We'll see what the weather looks like and if there are any scratches or changes first.
So sit back and enjoy the race!