TODAY'S PAPER
46° Good Morning
NEWSDAY DEALS
YOU ARE A DEALS MEMBERVIEW DEALS
46° Good Morning
SportsHorseracingBelmont Stakes

Belmont Stakes horse-by-horse analysis

Trainer Bob Baffert greets Justify after his arrival

Trainer Bob Baffert greets Justify after his arrival at Belmont Park on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

JUSTIFY

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Mike Smith

Record: 5-5-0-0

Last 3: 1-1-1

Post position: 1

Odds: 4-5

Flashy chestnut colt is trying to do something unprecedented: win a Triple Crown less than four months after making his career debut. Hasn’t shown any ill effects after five races in only three months; training brilliantly and holding his weight well. If he can get the lead and back down the pace, he could duplicate American Pharoah’s Belmont runaway for Baffert. Overcame serious pace pressure in the Derby and Preakness, but even the great ones can hit the wall at 1 1/2 miles. No point in risking dollars to try to make dimes in the win pool, so I’ll look for value combining him with Hofburg, Tenfold and Vino Rosso.

FREE DROP BILLY

Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Robby Alvarado

Record: 9-2-3-2

Last 3: 16-4-3

Post position: 2

Odds: 30-1

There was a buzz about him before last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but he finished ninth at Del Mar and is 0-for-4 since. Lost by 41 lengths to Justify in the Derby, so even if he makes up 35 of them, he’ll be nowhere close. On the plus side, he’s 7-for-9 in the money and usually gaining late, so he could clunk up for third or fourth. I can’t see him doing any better than that.

BRAVAZO

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Jockey: Luis Saez

Record: 10-3-2-1

Last 3: 2-6-8

Post position: 3

Odds: 8-1

Was moving fastest of all when second in the Preakness, missing by only a half-length, and might have won if the wire had been 25 yards farther away. Some will say that makes him the second-likeliest winner in the Belmont. Not necessarily, because the pace scenario undoubtedly will be different. Likely to be overbet, and if you didn’t hit the exacta with him last time, I wouldn’t play him. Lukas has won four Belmonts, so don’t ever count him out, but if he runs big again, then I’ll be ripping up my tickets.

HOFBURG

Trainer: Bill Mott

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Record: 4-1-1-0

Last 3: 7-2-1

Post position: 4

Odds: 9-2

Here’s a live midpriced horse with an outstanding distance pedigree. His father, Tapit, sired the last two Belmont Stakes winners — Tapwrit, Creator — and his maternal grandsire, Touch Gold, spoiled the Triple Crown bid of Baffert’s Silver Charm in 1997. Hall of Famer Mott won the 2010 Belmont with 12-1 Drosselmeyer. Word is he’s working brilliantly off the radar up in Saratoga. Lightly raced (only his fifth start) and eligible to improve. Worth an across-the-board play, and I’ll be using him in exactas with Justify.

RESTORING HOPE

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Record: 5-1-1-2

Last 3: 12-3-1

Post position: 5

Odds: 30-1

Couldn’t handle slop on Derby Day when 12th in Pat Day Mile, his first time out of the money. Baffert’s third-stringer is a plodding type who might pass tired opponents and get a minor share of the purse, but can’t see him doing better than that.

GRONKOWSKI

Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Record: 6-4-1-0

Last 3: 1-1-1

Post position: 6

Odds: 12-1

English shipper’s most intriguing aspect is his name. Rob Gronkowski has attended the Derby with Tom Brady, and Gronk bought a minority interest in his equine namesake. Qualified for the Derby by winning a minor race at a mile on synthetic at Newcastle, England’s equivalent to Turfway Park. Never been on conventional dirt or in a graded stakes. Can’t like his chances at all, but it will be fun if the Patriots’ tight end shows up.

TENFOLD

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Ricardo Santana

Record: 4-2-0-1

Last 3: 3-5-1

Post position: 7

Odds: 12-1

Like Hofburg, lightly raced and likely to improve. Missed second by a neck in the Preakness despite not having the best of trips, and another forward move would be no surprise. Pedigree (Curlin out of a Tapit mare) says yes to the marathon distance, and should be in the mix in the stretch. Don’t leave out of any exotics, and worth an across-the-board play.

VINO ROSSO

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: John Velazquez

Record: 6-3-0-1

Last 3: 9-1-4

Post position: 8

Odds: 8-1

Throw out his Derby, when he lost all chance when wide and far back early after being stuck out in post 18. Pedigree (Curlin out of a Street Cry mare) says he’ll like 1 1/2 miles more than most, and his late-pace figures are strong. Training well at Belmont for Pletcher, who’s looking for his fourth Belmont trophy and second in a row. A longshot with resources.

NOBLE INDY

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Record: 5-3-0-1

Last 3: 17-1-3

Post position: 9

Odds: 30-1

One of the few in the field with speed. Could push Justify early if that’s the plan, but the favorite could let him go and sit off him. Co-owned by WinStar Farm, one of Justify’s connections, and Long Islander Mike Repole. Noble Maz, the colt’s mother, belonged to Jericho’s Fred Hart. Backed up to 17th in the Derby, but he did beat Bravazo by 21 lengths in the Louisiana Derby, so maybe he can rebound at big odds. If pace is slow, maybe he can be in the superfecta.

BLENDED CITIZEN

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Jockey: Kyle Frey

Record: 10-3-0-2

Last 3: 1-5-1

Post position: 10

Odds: 15-1

Closed well to take an uninspiring edition of the Peter Pan, which Belmont winner Tonalist did four years ago. So at least you know he likes Belmont Park. Not much else to recommend him. Late bloomer needed five starts before getting his first win. Can’t make a case to put money on him.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports