The Belmont Stakes is referred to as ‘The Test Of Champions’, and rightfully so. It is the longest of the Triple Crown races at a mile & a half. If there are aspirations of horse racing immortality one must win three races in a five week span. A grueling schedule considering these animals perform at their optimal best with 3-5 weeks rest between races.
Since 2008 three horses other than JUSTIFY have gone into the Belmont Stakes with a chance to become a part of horse racing history. Only AMERICAN PHAROAH in 2015 did so- sweeping the Triple Crown racing series. Beginning today DRB will take a look at some of the probable Belmont starters who have a good shot at denying JUSTIFY his spot among the equine greats.
VINO ROSSO. This Todd Pletcher trained horse was 9th in the Kentucky Derby finishing 10.5 lengths behind JUSTIFY. But a common angle he brings to the Belmont Stakes is one that horses who run out-of-the-money in the KD tend to skip The Preakness, and then run-back fresh in the Belmont Stakes. Is JUSTIFY leg weary? Possibly. In 2013 Pletcher’s PALICE MALICE won the Belmont Stakes. The connections here are the same, and the horse’s pedigree suggests he has the stamina to get the distance. Early morning line on VINO ROSSO is 10-1.
BRAVAZO. At 82 years of age, trainer D. Wayne Lukas is proving to still be relevant in this business. His barn has had a resurgence in the last couple of years, and this colt is a part of that prominence. BRAVAZO just about caught JUSTIFY in The Preakness, and Lukas seems to think the three week turn around won’t be an issue with this guy. His races have been inconsistent, but he has hit the board in six of ten starts. Three of them victories. He’s had only one poor performance as a three year-old, and should benefit from the additional distance of the Belmont Stakes. BRAVAZO at the moment is the second betting favorite at 5-1.
Next time DRB will take a look at potential upset winners HOFBURG and TENFOLD. So come on back.