This year the Belmont Stakes is taking place under unusual circumstances for a few reasons. First of all, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike, did not race in the Preakness Stakes, eliminating his chance for a Triple Crown.
Yet the colt will be in the Belmont Stakes.
The winner of the Preakness Stakes, Early Voting, has opted out, as his trainer is not convinced he is suited for the grueling 1 1/2-mile race.
The runner-up in the first two legs, Epicenter, will be absent from the field as well.
Finally, with only an eight-horse field, with the potential of three of the entries going off at odds of less than 4-1, it does not make for enticing Perfecta bets. If you want added excitement, you’ll need to include a longshot in your combinations.
Rich Strike For Real? The 80-1 shot that won the Kentucky Derby was not even supposed to be in the race until a late scratch on the day before the race that allowed him to be a late entry.
The victory from the most extreme outside post and his tremendous burst in the stretch were impossible to predict from his previous performances.
Prior to the Derby win, the colt had only finished in the money on three occasions, with one win and two third-place finishes.
The lone victory was not even in a Stakes race, but a higher-priced claiming race at Churchill Downs.
Besides the races in the money, he finished in the middle of the pack in two others and was tenth in his inaugural Maiden Special Weight outing to begin his career.
On Saturday the horse racing world will find out whether he is going to be the next super horse or a one-time wonder.
New York, New York #1: Over the years, local horses that opted out or did not qualify for the Derby have devoted their preparation to the Belmont Stakes.
The final leg of their preparation is running in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont. The likely favorite for the Belmont, We The People, won that race in a very impressive fashion galloping to a 10 1/4 length victory. From the inside No. 1 post, his jockey will be able to survey the field and decide to push the early pace or tuck in with a “live” cover.
In addition, the colt and his jockey’s familiarity with the oval will be an extra advantage.
New York, New York #6: Mo Donegal is another horse familiar with the New York racing circuit and has one win and one third-place finish in his first two races, which were at Belmont Park.
His other victory came at Aqueduct Park in one of the Derby Prep races, the Wood Memorial. Interestingly, he scored that victory over the winner of the Preakness Stakes, Early Voting.
Mo Donegal did not run in the Preakness and had a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Therefore, being on home turf along with the extended rest after the Derby warrants him being one of the top betting choices in the race.
What Would Frank Do? With no longshot and the potential of three lower-priced favorites, how am I going to wager. Banking on the premise that Rich Strike is a one-time wonder, for a rarity I will be taking the potential favorite, We The People, and coupling him with a few others in Perfectas, including Mo Donegal.
From a constitutional point of view, if Early Voting can win the Preakness, why not We The People win the Belmont?
Photo by Mike L Photo's via Wikimedia.