Belmont Contenders or Pretenders?

DRB is always looking for value when it comes to wagering on the horses.  But in regard to The Belmont Stakes coming up next Saturday, it comes down to this: If morning line favorite JUSTIFY runs close to his best, the rest of the field is competing for 2nd place.  But if the grind of the Triple Crown bid (3 races in 5 weeks) leads to a regression from JUSTIFY, then the race becomes wide open.  That said, here’s a look at two more probable entrants.

NOBLE INDY.  This Todd Pletcher trained horse has yet to really prove himself as a top runner at this level, and the going gets no easier at Belmont.  He had an awful Kentucky Derby, finishing 17th in the field of twenty.  Before that race he won the Louisiana Derby over a so-so field.  And three back he came in third in the Risen Star behind winner BRAVAZO who is also running in the Belmont Stakes.  Pletcher horses have won The Belmont three previous times, the most recent being last year with TAPWRIT.  Unfortunately his running style is not suited for this race, NOBLE INDY is the one most likely to tangle with JUSTIFY early on and set the pace.  But he is just not capable of matching JUSTIFY stride for stride and still have enough left to get up and beat him.  His breeding indicates that the mile & a half distance won’t be the issue, and he is in the qualified hands of one of the best trainers in the business…Tough call, but I don’t see it happening.

BLENDED CITIZEN.  He didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby as he barely missed the required points to qualify.  So instead, trainer Doug O’Neill took him to run in the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park the week after the KD.  Prior to that he ran a decent race in the Bluegrass Stakes, closing strong to finish 5th by 4 lengths to winner GOOD MAGIC.  It was in 2014 that TONALIST took the same path to a Belmont Stakes victory; skipping the KD, winning the Peter Pan and then going on to win at Belmont, crushing the Triple Crown dreams of heavily favored CALIFORNIA CHROME.  Early in his career BLENDED CITIZEN seemed better suited toward turf racing, but with his last couple of efforts on dirt, he seems to be rounding into form.  If this horse were to win, it would be a bit of role reversal for trainer O’Neill, when in 2012 he took I’LL HAVE ANOTHER into Belmont needing a win for the Triple Crown, only to be denied by UNION RAGSBLENDED CITIZEN is a closer who does his best running in the stretch, and has proven he likes the track.  (horses for courses angle)  If there is a total pace collapse on the lead and JUSTIFY doesn’t run to form, this guy could pull off the upset at a nice price.

The post positions for the Belmont Stakes will be drawn on Wednesday June 6th.  Riders will be announced and morning line odds will also be established.  DRB will take a look at the rest of the probable field next time out, so come on back.

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