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Belmont Stakes Preview

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify is one race away from sweeping the 2018 Triple Crown series for trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith.

 Bob Baffert had three runners win the Derby and Preakness before losing the Belmont Stakes (War Emblem, Silver Charm, Real Quiet). Point Given was his first Belmont Stakes winner in 2001, and American Pharoah completed the Triple Crown sweep with a front running victory in the 2015 Belmont Stakes.

Veteran jockey Mike Smith used to be a regular on the New York circuit back in the day, and he has two Belmont Stakes wins to his credit (Drosselmeyer, Palace Malice).

With a bit more than a week to go, up to eleven horses are expected to try to spoil Justify’s Triple Crown party.  

Belmont Stakes 2018 Probable Field (as of 6-1-18):

Bandua: His trainer Dermot Weld saddled 1990 Belmont Stakes winner Go and Go. As of this writing, his chances of shipping to New York are 50/50. 

Blended Citizen: Doug O’Neill’s Peter Pan Stakes winner can seemingly run all day. The last Peter Pan winner to capture the Belmont Stakes was Tonalist in 2014.

Blended Citizen Belmont Stakes Past Performances 

Bravazo: The G2 Risen Star winner returned to form in a strong place finish in the Preakness Stakes. Wayne Lukas turned back the clock and worked the son of Awesome Again at flat mile at Churchill Downs earlier this week. 

Free Drop Billy: Trainer Dale Romans says the longer the better for the son of 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags. Look for him to stalk the Belmont pace under Robby Albarado. 

Free Drop Billy Belmont Stakes Past Performances 

Gronkowski: He got sick and missed a scheduled start in the Kentucky Derby. Chad Brown trains the overseas synthetic specialist now, and he had his first Belmont Stakes workout on May 26. He is expected to work one more time this weekend. His jockey Jose Ortiz won last year's Belmont aboard Tapwrit.

Hofburg: Bill Mott won the 2010 Belmont Stakes with Drosselmeyer, and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. guided Creator home in the 2016 Belmont Stakes. This lightly raced colt was 2nd in the Florida Derby and 7th in the Kentucky Derby in his last two starts.

Justify: The Triple Crown is clearly within reach for the unbeaten son of Scat Daddy. He fired a big half-mile bullet workout at Churchill Downs on May 29. Look for him to be on or near the lead with 2-3 furlongs to go, and that is where the litmus test begins.  

Noble Indy: His trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled three Belmont Stakes winners, and Jockey Javier Castellano is still searching for his first Belmont victory. The LA Derby hero was hung out to dry from post 19 on a wet track in the Kentucky Derby. He has speed, is training well, and should be forwardly placed on June 9.

Restoring Hope: Justify’s stablemate failed to handle the wet surface in the Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Before that, he landed the show in the Wood Memorial. Florent Geroux will ride the grinding type.  

Restoring Hope Belmont Stakes Past Performances 

Seahenge: He won an overseas Group 2 event last year as a juvenile for Aidan O’Brien. In his last two starts, he was 5th in the UAE Derby and 7th in the Pat Day Mile. 

Tenfold: The Preakness show finisher is lightly raced and on the upswing for Steve Asmussen (saddled Belmont Stakes winner Creator in 2016). He will probably stalk the pace at Big Sandy.

Vino Rosso: The Wood Memorial winner had no shot from post 18 in the Kentucky Derby, and he ended up a respectable 9th on a wet track that day. His sire Curlin just missed in the 2007 Belmont Stakes, and his rider John Velazquez has two Belmont wins (Rags to Riches, Union Rags). As mentioned earlier, trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled three Belmont Stakes winners. 
 

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