The final leg of the 2021 Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, goes this Saturday at Belmont Park, New York. Run over 12 furlongs (one and a half miles), the race is a true test of stamina and is contested around two sweeping turns of the Belmont Park Championship Track. The track record is still that set by Secretariat in this race in 1973. Historically, tactical speed is important, very few closers have won a Belmont Stakes, despite the race distance and wide-open nature of the track.
Belmont Stakes Draw
With a diminished field of eight, the draw shouldn’t be a huge factor. However, it is worth noting that speed horse Rock Your World has post position 7, away from the other potential leaders on the inside, giving him a chance to get to the front, something he couldn’t do in the Derby which cost him his chance. Stall 1 has clearly been the best place to come from historically in the Belmont Stakes, and this year will house the 16/1 shot Bourbonic.
Belmont Stakes Field
Essential Quality 2/1– Went into the Kentucky Derby as favorite and finished a close 4th.
Churchill Downs has not been kind to closers this Spring so that run holds up ok for me. Trip unknown but has shown a good attitude. The horse has five quality wins from six races. His sire, Tappit, has a good record here.
Rombauer 3/1 – Impressive winner of the Preakness, Mike McCarthy’s charge came from a good position off the pace to storm home and win comfortably.
The horse looked like he’ll get the extended 12-furlong trip. He will have to take another step forward here for me.
Hot Rod Charlie 7/2 – Winner of the 1m3f Louisiana Derby before finishing a good third in the Kentucky version. Skipped the Preakness so comes here fresh. Big chance stalking the pace.
Known Agenda 6/1 – A victim of the draw at Churchill Downs, coming out of the coffin box to finish ninth. Todd Pletcher skipped the Preakness with this Florida Derby winner who is bred to get 12 furlongs and is a live danger.
Rock Your World 9/2 – Undefeated entering the Kentucky Deby but blew the start and was never a factor. The Santa Anita Derby winner is the probable pace angle but question marks remain against this quality of opposition.
Bourbonic 16/1 – Ran down the field in the Kentucky Derby and at this point looks exposed.
Overtook 25/1 – Another Pletcher inmate, this expensive purchase finished third last time out in the Peter Pan Stakes.
France Go De Ina 33/1 – Japanese raider who briefly stuck his nose in front in the Preakness Stakes before fading to seventh. I expect improvement but not enough to challenge.
Analysis and Picks
Rombauer won the Preakness really well. The race was run to suit him and he took the step forward required to get it done. He won’t get too far behind here but I’m going to pass today. Connections of Hot Rod Charlie would like to control the pace but I don’t think Rock Your World will let that happen. Both of these horses look vulnerable to a stalker with a turn of foot.
Belmont Stakes savant Todd Pletcher has three runners and Known Agenda is the pick. Coming out of Trap 1 in the Derby scuppered his chances, so you need to put a line through that if you want to back him for this. Essential Quality attracted huge support before the Kentucky Derby. He was trapped four-wide as he challenged and as a result finished strongly without ever looking like winning.
I took Known Agenda for the Derby before getting chinned by the draw, and I think Todd Pletcher knows what he has on his hands here. I take him to win. Essential Quality looked unlucky to me in the Derby and can chase him home, with Rombauer closing to take third
1st – Known Agenda 6/1
2nd – Essential Quality 5/2
3rd – Rombauer 3/1