The Belmont Stakes is known as “The Test of the Champion.” The 1 1/2-mile race requires speed and energy, but in the end, horses with stamina and well-rationed energy distribution often decide the race.
Belmont Stakes favorites and main contenders
Three of the last four editions of the Belmont Stakes have produced a post-time favorite as the winner. However, Belmont Stakes history shows that over the past 16 years, there have been 10 horses to win the Belmont Stakes at post-time odds of 6-1 or greater. Eight of those winners had odds of 10-1 or greater. There have been 65 post-time favorites to win the Belmont in the 153-year history of the race.
We the People (2-1)
We the People did not race as a 2-year-old, and he’s won 3-of-4 starts as a sophomore. He finished seventh in his stakes debut in the Arkansas Derby but was worked up and washed before the race. Then, in last month’s Peter Pan Stakes, he produced his top BRIS speed rating (108) and went wire-to-wire to win the 1 1/8-mile race by 10 lengths on an off track rated good. We the People will likely be the pacesetter in a race lacking early speed. We the People is a son of Constitution, and his sire was Tapit, who produced four Belmont Stakes winners.
Mo Donegal (5-2)
Leading analysts from Horse Racing Nation and TVG believe Mo Donegal could close the favorite and is the best horse in the field. He showed top speed and closing ability in capturing the Wood Memorial before rallying late to finish fifth in the Kentucky Derby. Mo Donegal is a massive colt who owns prodigious stamina and should welcome the added ground. That and the combination of three-time Belmont Stakes-winning trainer Todd Pletcher and top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. make Mo Donegal a major player.
Rich Strike (7-2)
Rich Strike broke through and rallied at massive odds to win the Kentucky Derby, and then skipped the Preakness like Mo Donegal. He won’t get the same fast fractions and pace collapse in this race, and coming off his top speed figure in the Derby does not bode well for a repeat performance in this 12-furlong race. Rich Strike is bred for the distance, and his sire, Keen Ice, finished third in the Belmont Stakes. But his jockey has never ridden at Belmont Park, with its huge track and large, sweeping turns. Rich Strike has won just 2-of-8 career starts but does draw a shorter and softer field in this year’s Belmont Stakes.
Creative Minister (6-1)
Creative Minister joins Nest and Golden Glider as midpack and off-the-pace runners in the Belmont. He’s another colt who did not race as a 2-year-old, and he made his stakes debut in the Preakness when finishing third. He posted the fastest Equibase Speed Figure (108) in this field when winning an Allowance race on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Creative Minister has shown improvement and durability this year like his sire Creative Cause but now makes his third start in five weeks and will need to run a massive career-best race to pull the upset or finish in the top 2.
Early value and picks from Horse Racing Nation’s Super Screener analysis and TVG support the fine filly Nest. She’s a daughter of the great Curlin, and out of a dam by Belmont Stakes winner and 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy. She’s another runner trained by Todd Pletcher, who won his first Belmont Stakes with the filly Rags to Riches in 2007. Jockey Jose Ortiz takes the mount from his brother and Nest’s regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., but this filly is a win contender with top value in the race. Nest has won 4-of-6 starts and hit the board in all six races. Time to show off against the boys.
Golden Glider (20-1)
The top long shot in the field (after Nest) is Golden Glider. He was 9-2 when finishing a distant second to We the People in the Peter Pan Stakes last month but now gets a better pace setup. He has a solid foundation, running in his fifth straight graded stakes race and never finishing worse than fifth in three races on the Derby trail. Current Belmont meet leading jockey Dylan Davis rides him for the second straight race. Golden Glider is a son of Ghostzapper, a four-time Grade 1 and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner.
How to watch and bet the Belmont Stakes
The 154th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park is Saturday, June 11. Post time is 6:44 p.m. EDT, and national TV coverage of the races starts at 3 p.m. EDT on CNBC, with NBC taking over Belmont Stakes coverage from 5-7 p.m.
Saddle up and get ready to watch and wager on the biggest card of the year thus far. Saturday’s Belmont Stakes Day features eight Grade 1 races, including three “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races.