The undefeated Justify will break from the rail in Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1), seeking to make history as the 13th Triple Crown winner.
The Bob Baffert trainee was installed as the 4-5 morning line favorite and will have Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith in the irons. A filed of 10 will line up in the 1 ½ mile test.
Justify won the Kentucky Derby (G1) in the slop by 2 1/2 lengths and came back to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) two weeks later, again over a sloppy main track at Pimlico. The margin of victory was just a half length over runner up Bravazo with another neck back to third place finisher Tenfold. Both of those colts are back looking to turn the tables.
“We’re coming up with another great horse who just keeps bringing it,” said Baffert after the draw. “We still have a few days to go. We know it’s going to be tough. But if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.’
The Bill Mott trained Hofburg drew the four post and was installed as the second choice on the mooring line at 9-2. The colt ran second to Audible in the Florida Derby (G1) in his stakes debut and had a troubled trip in a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Mott Has Hofburg Ready
“We’ve had good time to recover from the Derby, which probably makes it a bigger challenge for Justify,” said Mott of Hofburg. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. We didn’t hit the board in the Derby and didn’t see any big advantage to running in the Preakness. We just pointed for the Belmont. We have to do what’s best for us, and that’s what we did.”
Bravazo and Vino Rosso are the co-third choices at 8-1. Bravazo will be sent out by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has won the Belmont Stakes four times including three in a row from 1994 to 1996. Luis Saez has the call on Bravazo who will break from the three post.
Vino Rosso will be saddled by trainer Todd Pletcher and makes his first start since a ninth-place finish in the Run for the Roses. The colt won the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct in his previous start. He breaks from the eight post with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons.
Preakness third place finisher Tenfold is 12-1 on the morning line and will break from the seven post. Also, at 12-1 is Gronkowski, who makes his first start in the U.S. for trainer Chad Brown.
Completing the field are Free Drop Billy (30-1) who was 16th in the Derby, Restoring Hope (30-1) who was 12th in the Pat Day Mile (G3), Noble Indy (30-1) 17th in the Derby, and Peter Pan (G3) winner Blended Citizen (15-1).
There is a 40% chance of rain on Saturday in Elmont, New York.
Post Positions and Morning Line Odds for the Belmont Stakes
|1. Justify||Bob Baffert||Mike Smith||4-5
|2. Free Drop Billy||Dale Romans||Robby Albarado||30-1
|3. Bravazo||D. Wayne Lukas||Luis Saez||8-1
|4. Hofburg||Bill Mott||Irad Ortiz, Jr||9-2
|5. Restoring Hope||Bob Baffert||Florent Geroux||30-1
|6. Gronkowski||Chad Brown||Jose Ortiz||12-1
|7. Tenfold||Steve Asmussen||Ricardo Santana, Jr||12-1
|8. Vino Rosso||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez||8-1
|9. Noble Indy||Todd Pletcher||Javier Castellano||30-1
|10. Blended Citizen||Doug O’Neill||Kyle Frey||15-1
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