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A look at the 10-horse field in today’s Belmont Stakes



For the Recorder
Friday, June 08, 2018

A closer look at the field in today’s Belmont Stakes

Post (Odds) Starts W-P-S; Last/Best Beyer; Earnings

1. JUSTIFY (4-5) 5-5-0-0; 97/107; $2,988,000

Bob Baffert/Mike Smith

Baffert seeks to saddle his second Triple Crown champion in three years. … Big colt towers over the field physically but also in wins, Beyers, and earnings, returning nearly $3 million on owners’ $500,000 yearling investment. …  Horses drawing the one post have won 23 Belmont Stakes, but none since 2003. Baffert wasn’t pleased. “We’ll deal with it,” he told the New York Post. … Worked a bullet four furlongs in 46.8 seconds  at Churchill on May 29, fastest of 43 at the distance. … Smith is seeking his third win in 18 Belmont Stakes starts.

2. FREE DROP BILLY (30-1) 9-2-3-2; 43/90; $625,220

Dale Romans/Robbie Albarado

Comes in off an excellent workout tab, including a best of 51  bullet at Churchill Downs three weeks ago. … Broke slowly and finished 16th at 45-1 in the Kentucky Derby. … Named for the owner’s golfing buddy who takes lots of free drops on the links. … Albarado is 0-for-5 in the Belmont Stakes.

3.  BRAVAZO (8-1) 10-3-2-1; 96/96; $736,528

D. Wayne Lukas/Luis Saez 

Only horse other than Justify to have raced the first two legs, finishing sixth in the Ky. Derby at 67-1 and a surprising second a half-length back in the Preakness at 15-1. … This is his 11th start at his seventh different track. …. The 83-year-old Lukas has saddled four Belmont Stakes winners. … Calumet Farms has hit the board with eight of its ten horses in the Belmont, including winners Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948).

4. HOFBURG (9-2) 4-1-1-0; 90/94; $227,950

William Mott/Irad Ortiz Jr.

Lightly raced chestnut colt finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby after being brushed at the start and steadied twice. … Juddmonte Farms won with Empire Maker in 2003 and was second with Aptitude in 2000. … Mott’s saddled six Belmont starters and won with Drosselmeyer in 2010. … Irad Ortiz Jr. leads the nation in wins (158) and win percentage (23 percent).

5. RESTORING HOPE (30-1) 5-1-1-2; 50/90; $149,880

Bob Baffert/Florent Geroux

Geroux is the nation’s top overall money earner in 2018. … Colt’s only win was a $54K Maiden Special weight at Santa Anita. … Sired by Tapit, the sire of the last two Belmont Stakes winners and three of the last four.

6. GRONKOWSKI (12-1) 6-4-1-0; N/A; $135,644

Chad Brown/Jose Ortiz

European invader has won four straight races in England but is the lowest money earner in today’s field, reflecting the low quality of the competition he’s faced.… Jose Ortiz won two years ago on Creator. … Pats fans should probably wait till Gronk races someplace beside New York before their hunch play.

7. TENFOLD (12-1) 4-2-0-1; 95/95; $289,200

Steven Asmussen/Ricardo Santana Jr.

Colt’s Beyers keep progressing upward: 87-90-92-95, culminating in his third place effort at the Preakness at 26-1 odds. … One of the few that likes to press the pace, and Asmussen loves playing the spoiler. … Santana gets his first Belmont mount. … Beware the proverbial big upside.

8. VINO ROSSO (8-1) 6-3-0-1; 88/98; $620,500

Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez

The Pletcher-Velazquez combo is lethal in the Empire State.    … Considered a morning glory until putting it all together in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7. A month later he finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby at 14-1. … Owner Mike Repole told the NY Post he looks for horses at auction that can win the Belmont Stakes, and Pletcher said this colt is bred to go long.… Velazquez has two wins and eight on-the-board finishes in 21 mounts at the Belmont.

9. NOBLE INDY (30-1) 5-3-0-1; 42/95; $691,600

Todd Pletcher/JJ Castellano

Louisiana Derby winner threw in a clunker at Churchill and finished 17th at 59-1. … Pletcher saddles his first two colts in the Belmont Stakes since Rags to Riches dead-heated for third in 2008. … Castellano seeks his first win in 10 Belmont starts. 

10. BLENDED CITIZEN (15-1) 10-3-0-2; 90/90; $406,854

Doug O’Neill/Kyle Frey

Seeks to be the sixth horse since 1957 to sweep the Peter Pan/Belmont Stakes double. … Won on an off track at Belmont and is the only horse with a race over the course. … Two horses have won from the 10 post since 1908.

RECORDER PICKS

JAY BUTYNSKI: HOFBURG

JEFF LAJOIE: HOFBURG

MARK DURANT: VINO ROSSO

JOHN DOBRYDNIO: TENFOLD

CHIP AINSWORTH: TENFOLD