Some people believe horses are athletes and some don’t. For what it’s worth, when ESPN did a 50 greatest athletes list of the 20th Century, the greatest thoroughbred in history, Secretariat, was on the list. That amazing animal was one of 12 horses to win the American Triple Crown, capped by an epic 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
On Saturday in the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York, Justify looks to become the 13th member of that exclusive club, and the colt is a -125 favorite. When the Triple Crown is on the line at the Belmont, it’s one of the biggest events of the year. It’s such a challenging accomplishment because these horses aren’t used to racing at full speed three times over five weeks. That’s what those who run in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont will do. The Belmont is also the longest of the three at 1.5 miles.
Justify was fairly dominant in his Kentucky Derby win at Churchill Downs but not quite as impressive two weeks later at Pimlico in the Preakness, nearly caught at the wire. Had that race been at the Belmont’s length, well, who knows? Justify, unbeaten in five career races after not competing as a two-year-old, won the first two legs of the Triple Crown on sloppy tracks. The current weather forecast for Elmont, N.Y. on Saturday, with a post time around 6:37 p.m. ET, is for rain.
There are 10 horses in the field, so starting from Post 1 isn’t near as damaging as it would be in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby. Justify has drawn Post 1 and the most winners in the Belmont’s history have started from there. Justify is trained by Bob Baffert, who saddled the last Triple Crown winner, American Pharaoh, in 2015. That horse started from Post 5.
Hofburg (+450), starting from Post 4, and Bravazo (+750), from the third spot, are the second- and third-favorites on Saturday. Bravazo was the horse chasing down Justify at the Preakness and finished just a half-length back. He was sixth in the Kentucky Derby. Hofburg was bumped at the start of the Kentucky Derby but still managed to finish seventh. He hasn’t raced since. Hofburg is a son of Tapit, who sired three of the last four Belmont winners.
The long shot in the 10-horse field is Free Drop Billy at +6600. He was 16th at the Kentucky Derby but did win the Breeders’ Cup Futurity as a two-year-old.