Bet The Belmont Stakes: Garrity breaks down the 8 horse field, picks a winner, trifecta, superfecta
The Belmont goes off at 6:49 pm EDT.
Ready or not, here it comes: the third leg of the Triple Crown is upon us.
The good news is that after a couple of days of weather issues, including a torrential downpour on Friday afternoon, today’s forecast in New York is quite good: it will be sunny, dry, and warm, and the main track, which dries out very quickly this time of year, will be in good shape, and fast, for the Belmont Stakes.
Here is a breakdown of the eight 3-year-olds colts who make up the 2021 Belmont Stakes field.
Belmont Park, Race 11, 6:40 pm ET
Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds=
This Todd Pletcher trainee won the Wood Memorial, at 72-1 odds, and then finished a well-beaten 13th in the Kentucky Derby. Considering that he has little early speed, and a pedigree that suggests he will struggle to get a mile and a half, we think another up-the-track finish is likely.
2-Essential Quality, 2-1
Brad Cox sends out Essential Quality, the morning line favorite and last year’s champion juvenile, who comes off a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, when he finished a length behind the winner. There are two ways to look at his run in Louisville: One is that it was a disappointment, as he was the beaten favorite, and it was his first loss in six career starts; the other is that he ran a deceptively good race, going wide around the track and making up ground late on a racing surface that favored speed all day. We are inclined toward the latter viewpoint, as we still believe what we believed before the Derby: Essential Quality is the best 3-year-old in training. He is the likeliest winner, and the fact that he should get a better trip in a field that is much smaller than the one he faced in Louisville makes his 2-1 morning line price very, very appealing.
Rombauer, who starts for trainer Michael McCarthy, sprung an upset when he won the Preakness at 11-1. This was a huge step forward for him, a much better race than he had ever run previously, and while it is possible that it was a fluke, we are more inclined to think it was legitimate, that he is a talented, late-blooming colt. He is a contender, but to win the Belmont, he will have to overcome two things: One is the distance, which may be a bit too far for him; the other is his come-from-behind running style, which was an asset for him in Baltimore, but will probably play against him today. He could win, but coming off a big win that everyone saw, he is probably an underlay at 3-1. We are playing against him, at least in terms of win consideration.
4-Hot Rod Charlie, 7/2
Hot Rod Charlie’s run in the Kentucky looks similar to Essential Quality’s: he had some traffic trouble, made up some ground to finish a close third, and earned a good 100 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort. That was a run that probably took some starch out of him, but with five weeks between the Derby and the Belmont, he’s had time to recover from the exertion. He’s talented, but he’s another entrant who may find 12 furlongs to be a bit farther than his optimum distance. Weird but interesting stat: trainer Doug O’Neill has won the Kentucky Derby twice, and the Preakness once, but has never won the Belmont.
5-France Go de Ina, 30-1
This Kentucky-bred colt who began his career in Japan has had a peripatetic spring, going from the Far East to Dubai to Baltimore, where he ran a well-beaten seventh in the Preakness. His connections have shipped him to New York for the Belmont; we hope they enjoy the experience, and the frequent flier miles they’ve amassed, because those are likely to be their only rewards for all the globetrotting. He is a non-contender, and we are tossing him.
Known Agenda, who comes from the Todd Pletcher barn, was a wise guy horse before the Kentucky Derby, but then he drew the inside post, which was bad; and then, when the gates opened, he got slammed into the rail, which was worse, and which probably took away any chance he had to win the race. He’s back here, and the question is whether he can regain the form that saw him win the Florida Derby in April. We think that doesn’t matter: The Florida Derby was a slow race, and even if Known Agenda gets back to how he ran that day, it won’t be good enough. At the relatively short price of 6-1, that makes him a mammoth underlay, and we are throwing him out.
7-Rock Your World
There are good things and bad things about Rock Your World. The good: His wire-to-wire victory in the Santa Anita Derby was both visually impressive and fast. The bad: He was aided by a track bias that day, which made his race look better than it really was; and his other three career races were decidedly pedestrian. Maybe he’s a very talented colt, but we’re against him until he shows he can run big on a fair track. At 9/2, we think he’s the biggest underlay in the race, and wish we could book the bets of all the people betting him.
On paper, Overtook, another Todd Pletcher starter, appears to have little chance: He’s run five times in his career, the only one of them he won was a maiden race at Aqueduct in December, and all five of his races have been slow. Going by figures, he’s a toss-out.
But we think he may have a chance -- it may be a small chance, but we do not think he is utterly hopeless. While he has yet to run a fast race, he has improved this year, and we like his pedigree: He’s by Curlin, who finished second in the 2006 Belmont, and his dam is Got Lucky, who was a terrific race mare, and who was sired by all-time great stallion, and Belmont Stakes winner, A.P. Indy. Overtook probably has the best 1 ½ mile dirt pedigree in the race, and that, combined with his slow but steady progress in his recent races, gives him at least a shot. Will he win? Probably not. But one could do worse that to take his 20-1 odds.
Here is how we see the race being run. Rock Your World will set the early pace, with Hot Rod Charlie and France Go de Ina just off his flank, and they will set fairly reasonable early fractions: they will not be flying up front, but neither will they be dawdling. Sitting just behind the pace-setting trio will be Essential Quality, with Rombauer just behind him, and the others farther back. The field will maintain this order through a mile, when things will begin to change: Rock Your World and France Go de Ina will begin to back up, Hot Rod Charlie will inherit the lead, Essential Quality will swing to the outside and begin to threaten, and the closers, including Rombauer, will start getting closer. We see Hot Rod Charlie and Essential Quality pretty close on the lead at the top of the long Belmont stretch, with Essential Quality pulling ahead at about the eighth pole. Essential Quality will put Hot Rod Charlie away, and will finish strongly, winning by a comfortable four lenghts. Hot Rod Charlie will hold on for second over Rombauer in a close finish, with Overtook finishing fourth. That’s a 2-4-3-8 superfecta. We will bet Essential Quality to win, and we will also play the trifecta and the superfecta.
Enjoy the race.