Belmont Stakes Preview

Justify has completed the first two stages of the Triple Crown and on Saturday will look to be the 13th horse to win all three major races. Justify and Bravazo are the only two horses in the field that have raced in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes so we will see if there is any sort of fatigue in those two.

For looking at these horses and who will be in contention Saturday, I looked at two different statistics. I used the peak speed rating from Equibase. This shows the top speed at which the horse ran this year. I also used race times from each of the horse’s last few races. I divided longer races by a factor in order to have a one mile average time for all of the runners.

The chart below shows the top speed ratings this year. Gronkowski has no value because he is from England and hasn’t had any recorded speed ratings. We see Blended Citizen, Justify and Bravazo are all tied at the top and are good bets to be there at the finish line.

Horse Highest Speed
Blended Citizen 110
Justify 110
Bravazo 110
Tenfold 108
Restoring Hope 108
Hofburg 107
Noble Indy 106
Vino Rosso 106
Free Drop Billy 102
Seahenge 74
Gronkowski NA

The chart below shows the averaged mile times over past races for Saturday’s Belmont field.

Horse Average Time
Noble Indy 01:36.9
Blended Citizen 01:37.3
Justify 01:37.6
Seahenge 01:37.7
Free Drop Billy 01:37.7
Hofburg 01:37.9
Bravazo 01:37.9
Vino Rosso 01:38.0
Tenfold 01:38.0
Gronkowski 01:38.3
Restoring Hope 01:38.5

I used an algorithm weighting both speed figures and mile times evenly and came up with a ranking system for the Belmont Stakes runners (chart below). Now often times the race takes on a mind of its own, maybe another horse will set the pace, but based on what I’ve seen Justify could have 3 or 4 horses on top of him and I’m anxious to see how it all shakes out.

totalranks

Blended Citizen is a bit of a surprise to lead the board because he’s not a big name horse. He didn’t race at the Preakness and was scratched from the Kentucky Derby, but finished first in his last race, the Peter Pan Stakes, also at Belmont. Blended Citizen does not have early speed, but if he can get space he will likely be flying late. With current odds at 20-1, Blended Citizen could be the most underrated horse in the field.

Justify will be the favorite. He led the Preakness wire to wire, but it was not an easy win at all. Down the stretch there Tenfold was closing in and Bravazo (my 15-1 pick to knock off Justify in the Preakness) came from way back to take a close second. Noble Indy also finishes high on the list. He has won 3 of his last 5 races, but his last start was a seventeenth place finish in the Kentucky Derby. That was the only race Noble Indy has finished outside of the money so maybe the smaller field will give him more space to fire here. Hofburg hasn’t raced since a seventh place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Gronkowski is from England and was supposed to race in the Kentucky Derby, but was scratched due to illness. He will be an unknown going into Saturday. Vino Rosso is a horse a lot of people like and who finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby but skipped the Preakness. People like him because his trainer has had success in the Belmont. An interesting bit about Vino Rosso is he was born just days apart from Justify at the very same farm in Kentucky.

When Saturday comes, it should be a wild race with Justify pushing the pace with whichever horse decides to push with him (likely Restoring Hope or Noble Indy). Coming down the stretch could be even crazier than the Preakness. Tenfold, Bravazo and Blended Citizen will all be looking for space to fly late as Justify tries to hold on for the last jewel of the Triple Crown.

Morning Line Odds and Post Position

Post Position Horse ML Odds Trainer Jockey
1

Justify

4-5 Bob Baffert Mike Smith
2

Free Drop Billy

30-1 Dale Romans Robby Albarado
3 Bravazo 8-1 D. Wayne Lukas Luis Saez
4

Hofburg

9-2 Bill Mott Irad Ortiz, Jr.
5

Restoring Hope

30-1 Bob Baffert Flavien Prat
6 Gronkowski 12-1 Chad Brown Jose Ortiz
7

Tenfold

12-1 Steve Asmussen Ricardo Santana, Jr.
8

Vino Rosso

8-1 Todd Pletcher John Velazquez
9 Noble Indy 30-1 Todd Pletcher Javier Castellano
10

Blended Citizen

15-1 Doug O’Neill Kyle Frey

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