While there is no Triple Crown hanging in the balance in 2021, we have an outstanding card for Belmont Stakes Day on Saturday with eight Grade 1 races on tap highlighted by the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1).
Three of the Grade 1 races are Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races—the $1 million Metropolitan Handicap, the $400,000 Jaipur and the $500,000 Ogden Phipps.
While the actual Kentucky Derby winner is up in the air, Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Rombauer will face off against five Kentucky Derby alum including the beaten favorite Essential Quality in the Belmont Stakes.
Essential Quality was installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite. The Brad Cox trainee was beaten a length when fourth in the Kentucky Derby, his first career loss.
“He ran what I thought was a winning race in the Derby; he didn’t have the trip, but he showed up and he’s been improving in every start,” Cox said. “I’m confident that he can handle the mile and a half.”
The connections of Rombauer elected to skip the Kentucky Derby and it paid off, the colt rolling to a 3 1/2 length victory and returning his backers $25.60.
The Michael McCarthy trainee won the El Camino Real Derby and was third in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) in his two previous races.
“He’s a well put-together horse. He’s well balanced,” said trainer Michael McCarthy. “He’s not overly big. His mechanics are great and he’s a horse that when you lead him over there, he has his mind on running. I think his best weapon is what’s in between his ears.”
Rombauer Wins Preakness Stakes
The biggest danger may be Rock Your World (9-2) who was off poorly in the Kentucky Derby and checked in a well beaten 17th. The colt won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in gate to wire fashion in his previous outing for trainer John Sadler.
“We think he can run a long way,” Sadler said. “He’s got Candy Ride on top and with him being out of an Empire Maker mare, he’s got the stamina to go the distance.”
The Doug O’Neill trained Hot Rod Charlie (7-2) may take some action off his third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, beaten a length. Jockey Flavien Prat had already committed to riding the colt before he booted home the Preakness winner.
Pletcher Sends Out Three
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out a trio of runners as he seeks his fourth win in the Belmont. His last two were with Tapwrit and Palace Malice, who both finished out of the money in their Derby outings.
Known Agenda (6-1) was a disappointing ninth in the Run for the Roses. He won the Florida Derby (G1) in his final prep. Bourbonic (15-1) wo the Wood Memorial (G2) in a shocker but was not a threat in a 13th place finish in the Derby.
Overtook (20-1) is the lone newcomer to the Triple Crown in the field. He was third in the Peter Pan (G3) in his last outing.
France Go de Ina (30-1) was seventh in the Preakness Stakes and is chasing a $1 million bonus that the NYRA is offering to a Japan based horse who wins the Belmont.
The race before the Belmont is the $750,000 Manhattan (G1) at 1 ¼ miles on turf. Trainer Chad Brown sends out a quartet of runners looking for his third win in a row in this race. Brown has won the race six times in the last nine years.
The NBC Sports Network has the action from 3:00 to 5:00 ET and then it is over to NBC from 5:00 to 7:00. “America’s Day at the Races” is on FS2 today from 11:30 to 3:00 and 7:15 to 8:15 ET with the action from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs
Let’s head out to Belmont Park today for the Manhattan:
Belmont Race 10 The Manhattan G1 (5:38 ET)
#9 Gufo 5-1
#4 Domestic Spending 3-1
#10 Colonel Liam 5-2
#6 Rockemperor 8-1
This colt makes his second start off a 5 1/2-month break here for the Clement barn. Off the shelf last out the colt came with a good late rally while wide to miss by just a nose to Channel Cat as the beaten favorite. He won the Belmont Derby (G1) here last October at 1 1/4 miles. He then was beaten a head and a neck when third in the Hollywood Derby (G1). The winner of that race was Domestic Spending who returned to win the Old Forrester Turf Classic (G1). The runner up month Like Spirit came back to Shoemaker Mile (G1) in his next outing and fourth place finisher Ger Smokin’ won the Tampa Bay (G3) in his next start. Clement is 22% winners (with a +ROI) with runners making their second start off a +45-180-day layoff. The barn has been sending out live runners at this meet and this colt just needs to see a little pace in front of him here.
The gelding is one of four in here sent out by the Brown barn that has won this race six times including having the top two finishers last year and the top three in 2019. This gelding came off a five-month layoff in the Old Forrester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs where he made a good late rally to land in a deadheat with Colonel Liam. The gelding won four of his five starts last year including the Saratoga Derby at 1 3/16 miles and the Hollywood Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles. This gelding has shown improvement with each outing and looks capable of moving forward second off the bench. Brown is 29% winners with runners making their second start off a 45–180-day layoff.
The Pletcher trainee has won 6 of 8 in his career and four in a row. He battles, winning the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) by a neck and shared the victory with our second choice in the Old Forrester. He earned his first triple digit Beyer last out after a pair of 99’s in his two previous outings. He looks capable of handling the extra ground here for Pletcher. He will need a new jock with Irad involved in a spill on Thursday.
WIN: Gufo to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 9 / 4,6,8,10 and 4,9 / 4,9,10