Garrity Handicaps the Belmont Stakes, picks exacta, trifecta & why 7 horses won't win & Creative Minister will

Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds, 6:44 pm EDT.
Garrity picks Creative Minister, the gray No. 7, to be in front at the wire in the Belmont Stakes.
Garrity picks Creative Minister, the gray No. 7, to be in front at the wire in the Belmont Stakes.NYRA

Belmont Park, Race 11, 6:44 pm ET

Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

The final jewel of the Triple Crown is upon us: it is time for the Belmont Stakes. We expect a fast main track, and here is our assessment of each of the eight entrants.

1-We the People, 2-1. There are two ways a handicapper can look at this son of Constitution: The first is that his win in the Peter Pan last out is a sign that he’s a late bloomer, and has talent; the second is that he won that race by virtue of a marshmallow-soft trip, leading all the way while setting slow fractions on a speed-favoring track, and he is not as good as he looked that day. We think he is a contender, but a marginal one, and at 2-1, he is an underlay, at least in terms of win consideration.

2-Skippyongstocking, 20-1. This colt is not exactly a win machine, with just two victories in ten career starts. But he has a running style that might be a fit today: He has some early speed, and that should help his chances greatly. We do not particularly like him on top, but think he has a good shot to hit the board at a big number.

3-Nest, 8-1. This filly has talent, enough that people have been likening her to Rags to Riches, who in 2008 became the first female to win the Belmont Stakes in over 100 years. We think those comparisons are absurd; Nest finished behind Secret Oath in the Kentucky Oaks, and Secret Oath was no match against colts in the Preakness, finishing a well-beaten fifth. Non-contender.

4-Rich Strike, 7/2. Rich Strike needed a pace collapse to win the Kentucky Derby, and his 81-1 odds were primarily a function of the fact that his races leading up to the Run for the Roses were on synthetic racing surfaces, which obscured the fact that he was improving rapidly. He will be a Derby winner forever, but we do not see him adding to his laurels today: we think he will probably hit the board, but we see a Belmont victory being unlikely for him.

5-Creative Minister, 6-1. This colt did not make his first career start until March, but has accomplished a lot since then: he has improved every time he has run, including in his last, when he finished third behind Early Voting in the Preakness. We like everything about him: We like that he seems to be thriving physically on an active racing schedule (this will be his fifth race in three months); we like that he has a terrific pedigree to get this mile and a half distance; and we like that he has an ideal running style, with enough natural speed to be close to what should be a moderate or even slow early pace. We like him enough that we think that after the race is over, he is going to be getting his picture taken in the winner’s circle: Creative Minister is the pick to win the 2022 Belmont Stakes.

6-Mo Donegal, 5/2. Todd Pletcher trains Mo Donegal, and he’s a horse that has been getting attention this week, primarily because Pletcher has had success in the Belmont, having won it three times. This horse obviously has some talent, as he showed winning the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in April, but we dislike his lack of speed, and we especially dislike his 5/2 morning line number, which is far, far lower than his actual chances to win the race. He’s an underlay, and for us a throw-out.

7-Golden Glider, 20-1. The good news is that Golden Glider has been running in stakes races since February, so he seems to be fit and sound; the bad news is that he has not been competitive in any of those races, finishing up the track in the Sam F. Davis, the Tampa Bay Derby, the Bluegrass Stakes, and the Peter Pan. He seems likely to do what he’s been doing all year, which is clunking up for a minor placing. Non-contender.

8-Barber Road, 10-1. This John Ortiz trainee spent the winter in spring in Arkansas, where the 3-year-olds were, as a group weak, and did not distinguish himself in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished sixth, even though the early pace collapsed, and the race shape favored his closing running style. If the best he could do was sixth when things went his way, he is unlikely to do better when they do not, and we do not expect the pace scenario to favor him today. Barber Road for us is a non-contender, and we are tossing him from win consideration.

How the Race Will Run

Here is how we expect the race to be run: We see We the People getting the early lead, with Nest, Skippylongstocking, and Creative Minister just behind him. The rest of the field will be farther back, perhaps much farther back – there could be a significant gap between these four and the rest of the field. The early fractions will be moderate, or perhaps even slow: the pace will favor the horses in the vanguard, and make it difficult for the come-from-behinders to make up ground late.

After about a mile, Nest will throw in the towel. The other three pacesetters will run on, with Rich Strike trying to rally into contention, and Mo Donegal behind him. The other closers will be spinning their wheels.

We see Creative Minister grinding his way to the front in deep stretch, and hitting the wire first, with Skippylongstocking second. Rich Strike will get up for third, and the pacesetter, We the People, hanging on for fourth. We will bet Creative Minister to win, and we will play those horses in the trifecta and superfecta.

Enjoy the Belmont, everyone.

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