The 2021 Triple Crown will come to an end Saturday, back in its familiar setting of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets. After the pandemic scrambled the order in 2021, there will be a flavorful sense of normalcy with a crowd of about 11,000 on hand at Belmont Park and a strong field of eight in a Grade 1 stakes that will have a major say in who eventually becomes the division champion.
belmont stakes presented by nyra bets
1. Bourbonic (15-1): He was a shocking 72.25-1 winner of the Wood Memorial Presented by Resorts World Casino, then failed to fire when 13th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. The added distance here and five weeks of rest should help his cause, but can lightning strike twice? It seems unlikely in a field this good.
2. Essential Quality (2-1): He was the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, when he was fourth, and should be the favorite here. He was involved in some bumping at the start of the Kentucky Derby and then raced wide. He’s been training sharply since then and should turn in a better effort here. His breeding, as son of Tapit, works in his favor in this race and makes him a must-use in the exotics.
3. Rombauer (3-1): He certainly looked like a champion in the making, winning the Preakness Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths. The added distance of the Belmont should be right up his alley, but there is a hitch. In the Preakness, he had six weeks of rest and his two toughest rivals had just two weeks off and engaged in a duel on the front end that enhanced his late kick. Here, with three weeks rest, the time off works in favor of his main rivals, which will speak volumes about his class should he win.
4. Hot Rod Charlie (7-2): He was third in the Kentucky Derby, a length behind Medina Spirit and a head in front of Essential Quality. Since he broke his maiden in his fourth start, he’s turned in one good effort after another and cannot be ignored. Whether he can handle the 1 ½-mile distance is the big question mark. It’s worth noting jockey Flavien Prat, who rode Rombauer to victory in the Preakness, will ride HRC Saturday, much like he did in the Kentucky Derby.
5. France Go de Ina (30-1): The Japanese runner was seventh in the Preakness after showing some early speed. He looks overmatched here, though on the plus side the distance of the race and size of the Belmont oval are more in line with his training and the racetracks in Japan.
6. Known Agenda (6-1): Breaking from the rail in the Kentucky Derby was costly for him as he was shuffled back to 17th early on. He did well to finish ninth and prior that won the Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Belmont three times with horses who ran on Kentucky Derby weekend and spent five weeks training at Belmont Park for the final classic. This colt and Bourbonic fit that mold but Known Agenda looks like a much better option than Bourbonic.
7. Rock Your World (9-2): A slow start and some bumping prevented him from setting the pace in the Kentucky Derby. He was 10th much of the way and faded to 17th. He should be on the lead here and, with a clean trip, we’ll find out if he’s good enough to beat a strong field like this one.
8. Overtook (20-1): He’s only won a maiden race and was third in the May 8 Peter Pan Stakes after a wide rally. His pedigree indicates he can handle the distance, but whether he’s good enough to prevail here is a big question mark. Maybe the addition of blinkers will move him way up.
THE PICK: Known Agenda
LIVE LONGSHOT: Known Agenda